The High Court, on Monday, gave the government what Jomo Thomas, a lawyer for the claimants in the COVID-19 vaccine mandate lawsuit, said was the “the legal equivalent of a slam dunk”.
High Court judge, Justice Esco Henry, ruled against the government on all but one of the major points of the lawsuit.
The public sector unions sued the government over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate under which hundreds of public sector workers were deemed to have abandoned or resigned their jobs in December 2021, for failing to take the jab.
The workers have maintained that they did not abandon or resign their jobs, as the government claimed. The workers said they were dismissed.
The special measures rules made under the SR&O – the vaccine mandate law — is unlawful, unconstitutional and void, the judge ruled.
After the judge handed down her ruling, Cerepha Harper-Joseph, a lawyer for the government, informed the court that the government intends to appeal and would apply to stay execution of the judgment.
Justice Henry, said this was expected, regardless of how her judgement had gone
“… it’s a very important decision impacting on very significant public interests matters,” Justice Henry said, adding that both sides “have a duty to pursue justice on behalf of the respective parties to the extent they consider necessary”.
The judge declared that none of the workers cease to be entitled to hold the respective offices of public officers and police officers within the relevant ministries, departments or the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, to which they were appointed respectively, by the Public Service Commission, the Police Service Commission and the Commissioner of Police and held at the relevant time.
She said that the dismissed workers are entitled to the full pay and all benefits due and payable to them in their respective capacities as public officers or police officers, inclusive of any accrued pension and gratuity benefits or rights from the respective dates on which they were deemed to have resigned.
“The Crown is liable to each claimant for damages for the reference constitutional breaches inclusive of an additional award to reflect the seriousness of the breaches and to deter any recurrence with interest at the statutory rate of 6% per annum,” Justice Henry ruled.
She issued an order to a quash here Minister of Health’s decision to make the rule that brough the mandate into effect.
The court further quashed the PSC’s decision to deem the public officers to have resigned their offices by operation of the vaccine mandate law.
Justice Henry further made a similar order regarding the Commissioner of Police’s decision to deem police officers to have resigned their jobs under the mandate.
She ordered that the claimants file and serve the application for assessment of damages within three months of — on or before June 14, 2023.
The court also directed the Public Service Commission, the Police Service Commission, Commissioner of Police, and the Attorney General to make the necessary arrangements for the respective claimants to receive all payments and benefits to which they are or become entitled.
The claimants are required to file the application for assessment of cost within 45 days of — or on or before April 20, 2023.
Justice Henry ruled that the Minister of Health’s decision to deem the public officers to have resigned their offices without affording them an opportunity to be heard, constitutes a breach of natural justice, contravenes the Constitution, is unlawful, procedurally-improper and void.
The judge further held that the Public Service Commission’s decision to deem the public officer to have resigned their offices and cease to be public officers by operation of law under regulation the SR&O, is a lawful and disproportionate
She said the Commissioner of Police’s decision to deem police officers below the rank of sergeant to have resigned their offices under the SR&O is unconstitutional and ultra vires.
The judge held that the Police Service Commission’s decision to deem police officers to have resigned their jobs under the mandate without affording them an opportunity to be heard, constitutes a breach of natural justice, contravened the Constitution is unlawful, procedurally improper and void.
Thank you, Jesus. All unfair games were replayed. I hope the old cunning fox now curls up in his den and goes to sleep. His days are numbered. Justice is mine’ saith the Lord.
Vincentians wake up and smell the coffee, let the N D P take all the 15 seats in the next election, in that way the man cannot thief any more, all of us deserve BETTER. The man have no love or feeling for anyone, but himself
Even though can’t say I’m NDP Edna has a valid point time for a change, otherwise are we vincentians so easily bought with lumber cement and tablet pc’s ????
Edna, do you really want the country to be ruled with one party, and no opposition? NDP had all 15 seats before, and land was bought for cheap by party high ranking members.
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