The plaintiff in the legal battle for the Town Clerk office walked away disappointed yesterday, when a decision was taken by High Court judge Justice Brassington Reynolds to withhold his ruling on whether Carol Sooba will remain in the public office of City Secretary.
The Court decided that since there are other related legal matters involving the said parties in the Appeal Court, he will give an interim ruling to await the outcome of the other matters.
Sooba, who has been acting as City Secretary for close to two years, was taken to court by Mr. Royston King who believes that Sooba was “arbitrarily” placed in the administrative post. The Local Government Ministry put Sooba to act in the position despite the fact that she was deemed the least qualified applicant interviewed for the job.
King was one of those who applied for the post of Town Clerk. He was deemed the second most qualified candidate although he has spent most of his working life at the Council, holding the post of Public Relations Director.
Initially, King had filed a case at the High Court before Chief Justice (CJ) Ian Chang to have the decision by the Minister to make Sooba the substantive Town Clerk quashed. King claimed he had a legitimate expectation that the most qualified of the applicants for the post would have been given the job. He also claimed that Sooba’s appointment was arbitrary and without legal backing or merit.
The CJ ruled however, that Sooba could remain in the post since the legal body to hire her was not in place. The Court squashed her appointment as substantive Town Clerk, but said she could remain as the de facto Town Clerk. King’s claim of a legitimate expectation was also quashed since the Court claimed that the Minister did convene a panel to hire someone for the post, but he did not hand the power of appointment to them.
King appealed the CJ’s ruling, specifically, the ruling that caused Sooba to remain in the post and the one that quashed his legitimate expectation argument. Lawyers for Sooba also got into the legal matter appealing the ruling.
The Mayor and City Councilors had by that time, decided to vote Sooba out as Town Clerk for a second time. They implanted King as the Acting Town Clerk and he assumed responsibility. In the documents to the Court of Appeal, Sooba also asked for a stay of the CJ’s ruling but that was quashed.
However, the matter in the Appeal Court has not yet been concluded.
For this reason, Justice Reynolds said yesterday that he is giving an interim ruling. “After considering the arguments and affidavits put forward by the two sides, and in the interest of justice, at this juncture, it is best served to adjourn and hold until the hearing and determination of the appeals.”
Several Councillors who attended yesterday’s proceedings expressed discontent at the “half way” rulings that are being made in such matters. One Councillor stated that while the Court has spoken about public interest and such, it should be noted that city dwellers are seeking a resolution to the issues at City Hall.
The Executive and Administrative arms of the City Municipality are divided. The Mayor and majority of Councillors are against Sooba as Town Clerk and have filed two no-confidence motions against her. They claim that she is defiant, disrespectful and ineffectual.
Sooba has noted however, that she has in excess of 800 staffers under her control and she will work to get her job done. She told media operatives yesterday that she was unable to be at the court hearing because her home at Duncan Street, Georgetown was “channa bombed.”
She said that in the early hours of yesterday morning, she heard a loud crash outside of her home which she occupies with a niece and her elderly mother. She explained, that more than one bottle of what is suspected to be channa bomb, was tossed at her property. Damage was done to the guard hut where two city constabulary officers keep watch. She said the guards claimed that a dark vehicle drove up to the property and someone threw the items which caused some PVC pipes in the yard to catch afire.
The police and fire service were then called in. The acting Town Clerk will be seeking to boost her security detail.
At the moment, she has two personal body guards along with constabulary officers who guard her property.
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