Acting Chief Justice Ian Chang yesterday granted an Order preventing the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) from making a decision not to renew the contract of Gocool Boodoo for the position of Chief Election Officer without following the procedure that the Commission has established for renewal of contracts for senior employees.
The court in handing down the Rule Nisi of Prohibition also ordered that the applicant be at liberty to issue and serve on the Chairman and Commissioners of GECOM a sealed and certified copy of the Notice of Motion, a sealed and certified copy of the Affidavit in Support of Motion filed on June 28, 2013 together with a sealed and certified copy of the Nisi Order.
Marshals from the High Court served the papers on the Chairman and Commissioners of GECOM prior to a scheduled meeting yesterday, precluding the meeting from being proceeded with.
In the writ, Chairman of GECOM Dr. Steve Surujbally and Commissioners Mahmood Shaw, Keshav Mangal, Jaya Manickchand, Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin and Sandra Jones are named as respondents in the matter while Boodoo is the applicant.
The matter was yesterday adjourned to July 10, 2013 at 11 am.
The recourse to the court by Boodoo follows a plan by the opposition-appointed commissioners on GECOM not to renew Boodoo’s contract over their dissatisfaction with his performance on the day the official results of the November 2011 general election were announced. His employment has been the subject of discussion at a series of GECOM meetings.
In the Originating Notice of Motion, Boodoo is seeking an Order directed to the Chairman and Commissioners of GECOM to show why they have not renewed his contract which came to an end on April 30, 2013 and to thereby quash the decision not to automatically renew the contract on the grounds that the decision taken not to automatically renew the contract is being made in bad faith, undermining and interfering with the applicant’s constitutional right to work in the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. In the Notice of Motion, he said that it is a legitimate expectation that his contract is renewed.
Boodoo is also seeking an Order of Mandamus directed to the Chairman and Commissioners of GECOM to renew the contract on the grounds that they must comply with the procedure that the Commission has established over the years when renewing contracts for senior employees.
Boodoo also sought an Order of Prohibition to prevent the Chairman and Commissioners of GECOM from making a decision not to renew Boodoo’s contract without following the procedure.
The applicant is seeking the Orders on the grounds that his constitutional right to work is being denied by the Chairman and Commissioners of GECOM in an unfair and unjust manner.
The Notice of Motion said too that the applicant has been working at GECOM for the past 13 years during which time he never had one letter written to him for poor performance of his job.
“The Applicant’s contract of employment expressly states among other things that the only way for the applicant’s performance shall be adjudged is by a yearly appraisal and that the said appraisal may be waived. The applicant shall contend that the waiving of the yearly appraisal is tantamount to exemplary job performance,” said the Notice of Motion.
It said that during his tenure at GECOM, a certain procedure was and still is used to renew contracts for senior employees, and Boodoo is “legitimately” relying on and which the Chairman and Commissioners are now denying him in a capricious, unlawful and unjustifiable manner.
Boodoo said in his Affidavit in Support of Notice of Motion that having commenced employment at GECOM as Deputy Chief Elections Officer in August 2000, he was appointed substantive Chief Election Officer in May 2002. “My first contract was for five years, being from 2002 to 2007. Thereafter I was appointed under two three year contracts – May 2007 to April 2010 and May 2010 to April 2013,” he said.
“As prescribed under clause 17 of my employment contract, I gave notice of my intention to renew my contract and to continue in my course of employment. Although my contract expressly state that there is a requirement of three months’ notice of my intention to continue working at GECOM, in all my 13 years at GECOM, that expressed provision was never strictly adhered to by me and by many of the senior employees who gave notice of their intention to renew their contract,” he said.
“In fact, to the best of my recollection, I have never previously given the Chairman of GECOM Dr. Steve Surujbally, of GECOM the full three months’ notice of my intention to have my contract renewed and in every occasion it was renewed,” he said.
“In fact, I have been praised by the Commission and commended by several organisations for, inter alia, conducting and delivering elections results in a timely manner and for the task of conducting the elections which were certified as free and fair by the international observers both in 2006 and 2011 when General and Regional Elections were held in Guyana,” said Boodoo in his Affidavit.
In his affidavit in support of the motion, Boodoo attested that the first and only time that there was any mention of an appraisal in relation to his performance was in March, 2013. He said he was orally requested by the Chairman to prepare an appraisal and to deliver it to him. Boodoo deposed that he complied and prepared the appraisal but to date had not heard anything else about it.
Having not heard from the commission, he had had his lawyer write a letter to GECOM citing their refusal to conduct the necessary appraisal. Boodoo averred that there was also no response to this letter from the Commission.