The statutory meeting of the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown (M&CC) kicked off in dramatic fashion yesterday with Councillor Ranwell Jordan endeavouring to have Mayor Hamilton Green enforce an injunction to have Deputy Town Clerk Yonette Pluck-Cort vacate the chair of Town Clerk.
The injunction stemmed from the refusal of Pluck-Cort to surrender the office of Town Clerk to Royston King who had applied and was appointed by Council to fill the position.
Disregarding the agenda yesterday, Jordan took to the floor, much to the disapproval of the Mayor and evidently Councillors Kamla Devi Ross and Parabhodial Sattan, to highlight the importance of adherence to the injunction.
According to him, allowing Pluck-Cort to remain in the chair of Town Clerk could in essence be classified as an act of contempt to the Court and therefore something he did not intend to support.
The session ended as dramatic as it started with councillors in support of the injunction opting to walk out and causing a heated verbal showdown between those for and against it. This development prompted Mayor Green to adjourn the meeting less than an hour after the start.
According to the injunction which was filed last Friday in the High Court before Justice Diana Insanally, Pluck-Cort is required to show cause why she should not be prohibited from acting as and/or exercising the powers of the Office of Town Clerk as her actions are “ultra vires, null and void.”
The injunction was based on the application by way of a motion filed by Councillors Jordan and Gwen McGowan-French for an order of prohibition filed on April 1 which was complemented with an affidavit by the two.
The injunction was granted on Thursday and details that “…upon hearing Attorney-at-law for the applicants it is hereby ordered that an order or Rule Nisi of Prohibition be and is hereby issued directly to the Deputy Town Clerk, Yonette Pluck-Cort …”
Pluck-Cort was reportedly served with the injunction on Friday but yesterday told this newspaper that she is not prepared to adhere to the injunction without first seeking legal advice. She has until May 16 next to address the matter when it will be heard in Bail Court.
A memorandum stamped by the Supreme Court Judicature of Guyana stated that should Pluck-Cort “neglect to obey this order by the time herein limited you will be liable to process of execution in the purposes of compelling you to obey the same order.”
But it certainly was not the will of the Mayor to have Pluck-Cort vacate the office of Town Clerk yesterday. Green pointed to the fact that despite an injunction was served there are yet differences in legal interpretation.
He offered his conviction that the ultimate decision will be dependent on the court hearing, revealing too, that upon seeing the injunction he had sought the advice from the Chambers of Luckhoo and Luckhoo which have since indicated that nothing has changed as it relates to Pluck-Cort acting in the capacity of Town Clerk.
Robert R. Ramcharran of Luckhoo and Luckhoo who had previously offered legal advice to Pluck-Cort had asserted that “the power to appoint persons to hold or act in any local government office and the power to remove any such person from office shall (be) vested in the Commission” as stated in Chapter 28:01 Section 116(1) of the Municipal Act.
The Act it was noted, states that until the coming into operation of the Commission the powers conferred on the Commission shall be exercised by the Minister.
“It is therefore my considered view that the motion requiring the Deputy Town Clerk to cease acting in the office of Town Clerk and for Mr King to perform the functions of Town Clerk pending his confirmation by the subject Minister is improper and irregular and what in fact the Council sought to do could only be done by the Minister.”
But according to a letter signed by Attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes “…as a result of the court order Pluck-Cort is prohibited from discharging the duties and functions as Town Clerk until the Court has heard and determined the application.”
However, in light of the injunction, Councillor Patricia Chase-Green underscored that failure on the part of the Mayor suggests that he is willing to allow a senior officer of the council to disobey the order of the court.”
She, too, added that she was not prepared to defy the court’s order. Councillor Junior Garrett also voiced his concerns stating that Pluck-Cort “should remove from the chair of Town Clerk immediately.”
Councillor Gladstone George was no less enthused that the Council was not complying with the injunction.
According to Councillor and Attorney-at-law Llewellyn John, the mere fact that an Order Nisi was granted it is required that the acting Town Clerk vacate the office she currently occupies until the matter is heard in the court of law.
In general, an Order Nisi is a court order that will become final unless the adversely affected party comes forward in some set period of time to show why the order should be set aside.
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