Commission gets leave to respond to Gafoor’s allegations
By JADA LOUTOO Tuesday, October 16 2012
THE INTEGRITY COMMISSION will have an opportunity to respond to allegations made against it by its suspended vice-chairman Gladys Gafoor in affidavits filed in support of her judicial review claim now before the courts.
Permission was yesterday granted to the commission by the Court of Appeal which ruled in its favour in a procedural appeal.
The commission had complained of Justice Vasheist Kokaram’s ambiguous ruling on an application to strike out evidence which led to the commission losing its right to reply to the allegations which remained on the record.
In an oral ruling yesterday, Chief Justice Ivor Archie and Justices of Appeal Nolan Bereaux and Gregory Smith said the judge having left certain paragraphs of the filed affidavits on the record as he dealt with the issue of bias, it was only appropriate that the commission be given a chance to respond.
The Integrity Commission filed an appeal after Kokaram, ruled that certain parts of the documents be removed, as they had no bearing on the case.
Gafoor’s lawyer, Clive Phelps, made an application to have several sections of five affidavits struck out from the evidence in the matter.
The affidavits were those of the attorney Gerald Ramdeen, the commission’s registrar, Martin Farrell, and commissioners Ken Gordon (chairman), Prof Ann-Marie Bissessar and Neil Rolingson.
The commission’s attorney Deborah Peake, SC, said the affidavits sought to defend allegations, and respond to claims made by Gafoor in her evidence.
Phelps claimed some of the evidence was irrelevant, prejudicial, and were opinions.
At the appeal, Phelps said the affidavits, particularly the Ramdeen affidavit, contained a rehashing and regurgitation of events, and even more so, should not have been allowed since the lawyer was not a party to the proceedings.
Phelps said even if the Civil Proceedings Rules allowed such evidence to be admitted, it did not change the fact that any “Tom, Dick or Harrilal” could join any litigation because they had something to say.
“He wasn’t duly authorised to speak for the Integrity Commission,” he said.
In her arguments, lead attorney for the commission, Deborah Peake, SC, said the judge ought not to have allowed the application to strike out evidence on the day the matter was set for trial, but having done so, he abrogated his earlier directions, which gave them a right to reply.
In her lawsuit, Gafoor is challenging a decision taken by the commission on December 21 last, which forced her to recuse herself from an investigation involving former attorney general, John Jeremie. Gafoor, in her claim, says that her fellow commissioners’ decision was biased.
Parallel to her judicial review was the constitutional motion against President Richards’ decision earlier this year to appoint a special tribunal to hear allegations against her made by her fellow commissioners.
On July 13 last, Kokaram delivered an 87-page judgment in the matter, in which he dismissed Gafoor’s claim, and said the President acted fairly, and that he did not breach her constitutional rights in appointing the tribunal.
Kokaram has also refused an application made by Gafoor’s lawyers asking that he step down from hearing the case.