Latest update March 25th, 2023 12:52 AM
Mar 03, 2023 Court Stories, Features / Columnists, News
Daily Express – A legal claim has been brought against the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries by a landscaping contractor who was seriously injured in an explosion at the National Petroleum Marketing Company Ltd (NP) in 2020.
The reason for the action was because the contractor, Sahadeo Khoon Khoon, said the ministry has refused to disclose to him the investigative report into the incident.
On Monday Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams granted permission to Khoon Khoon to file a claim for judicial review.
His contention is that he had been working as an independent contractor with NP for 16 years before the incident took place on December 11, 2020.
At the time he was removing gasoline from a storage tank using a pump and hose when the tank exploded, resulting in him suffering severe burns to his body.
Then-minister of energy Franklin Khan stated that an investigation would have been carried out into the incident and that once completed, the report would have been made public.
In June 2021, Khoon Khoon made an application under the Freedom of Information Act (FIOA) asking that the report be made available to him.
In his court filings, Khoon Khoon’s attorneys, led by former attorney general Anand Ramlogan, SC, said the report would help heal his psychological scars and was also necessary to assist as he intended to file separate litigation for his injuries.
“The disclosure of the report will give him this peace of mind as he expects that it would address the dangers to the health and safety of workers which presented itself at the material time and make recommendations to prevent a repeat of this incident and minimise the risk of recurring,” the filings stated.
However, in response to his first request, Khoon Khoon was informed that the report had not yet been completed.
Several months later he made another request but was again informed that the investigation was still ongoing.
In May last year, the investigation was completed and the report was prepared. But in spite of this, it still was not disclosed.
The ministry subsequently claimed the report could not immediately be disclosed as it was intended for submission in Parliament.
In the court filings, Khoon Khoon’s attorneys argued that the ministry could not seek to rely on an exemption under the FOIA after Khan announced it would be made public following its completion.
“The public has an interest in having investigative reports into explosions on state-run fuel entities provided for scrutiny and observations as to what went wrong and why,” the filings stated.
It went on to add that Khoon Khoon was frustrated and depressed by having to wait for such a long period of time to be furnished with the report but with no success.
The attorneys said because of the injuries, their client’s life has drastically changed since he is no longer gainfully employed given that he is physically incapable of working.
He is seeking a declaration from the court that the decision of the ministry to withhold the report was illegal and unreasonable.
In addition to that, he is also seeking to compel the court to order the ministry to have it disclosed.
Appearing alongside Ramlogan are attorneys Jayanti Lutchmedial, Kent Samlal, Natasha Bisram, and Sheldon Sookram.
They are being paid while we are being played…your pain is their gain!
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