Whittaker to appeal ruling on Sooba’s appointment

Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker has signalled his intention to appeal the recent ruling by Chief Justice (ag) Ian Chang quashing Carol Sooba’s appointment as Town Clerk.

While Stabroek News was unable to reach the Minister, Permanent Secretary Colin Croal said that Whittaker was indeed appealing the ruling.

Justice Chang on Thursday ruled that the then Local Government Minister Ganga Persaud did not have the power to appoint Sooba and therefore the appointment was illegal.

On Friday, Whittaker announced that Carol Sooba will remain as “acting” Town Clerk but Mayor Hamilton Green has since said that a majority of City Councillors have rejected the notion that she would continue to perform duties of Town Clerk and have taken steps to deal with the fact that her appointment was unlawful.

Last December City Hall’s Public Relations Officer Royston King filed a suit asking that Persaud show cause why his decision to appoint Sooba as Town Clerk should not be reversed.

King’s legal challenge came after Sooba was appointed despite widespread disapproval and also because an interview panel had voted her as the least qualified person for the job.

He had charged that the decision was an abuse of power because Persaud had failed to apply the criteria he had originally established when advertising for a Town Clerk.

Justice Chang, in delivering his ruling, stated that King’s suit did not challenge Sooba’s authority as the appointee of the minster to the office of Town Clerk but rather the decision of the minister in appointing her to that office. “It is not her authority which is challenged in these proceedings… rather it is the authority of the minister,” he said, stressing that since her appointment was ultra vires it was “legally defective.”

“…The court goes not further than saying that she holds the office of Town Clerk de facto but not de jure. This necessarily means that her acts done in performance of the duties of Town Clerk would be valid despite the fact that she holds office de facto and not de jure,” he said.

 

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