The Public Service Commission (PSC) should wait until the court proceedings have been completed before terminating the Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Justice and Community Services (MJCS), Dorosday Kenneth Watson, said the Opposition Leader, Ralph Regenvanu.
Former DG Watson had sought judicial review on the process taken by the government, through the Council of Ministers (COM) to restructure the MJCS, into the new Ministry of Fisheries, Ocean and Maritime Affairs.
The claim alleges that the decision was made in breach of provisions of the Government Act. The court was satisfied that the former DG had an arguable case thus, the matter proceeded to trial.
According to the judicial review judgement, defendant’s sworn statements contained no evidence of complying to the Government Act.
“It is open to the defendant (government) at any time to revoke the decision for its non-compliance with the requisite process, and make a new decision in accordance with the provisions of the Government Act.”
Regenvanu said PSC stating in Watson’s termination letter that she has committed “serious misconduct” for demonstrating her intention against the implementation of the government policy through the COM decision is completely wrong.
The judicial review centres on the lawfulness of the government’s decision, not concern with the government policy as PSC is implying, he said.
“It’s very clear that there were breaches of law in the process taken to make the change.
“Like I had previously said, the decision to restructure MJCS was purely politics since there was no consultation or evidence to back the decision
“PSC should wait on the outcome of the court to consider the termination of Watson. Based on the evidences with court, it seems there are breaches on the process taken to restructure MJCS.
“It’s very disappointing. I’m very concerned about the reputation of the state, integrity of PSC and the amount of public money spent on such decisions.
“The former DG did not breach her employment contract when she filed the judicial review against the government. She was terminated for doing her job.
“Such action by PSC as the employer is very discouraging for civil servants trying to stand up for the department they represented.
“Not only that, it’s also very discouraging for women in positions of power”
Ms Watson is the most senior female civil servant in public service, with 34 years in service and has served as Director two times for different departments.
She faced suspension after filing the case last year before being terminated.
Opposition Leader said he was informed by Watson’s lawyer that they will be seeking damages for unjustified termination.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST