Jaiwantee seeks to halt investigation by Justice Harris; attorneys file injunction

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Jaiwantee seeks to halt investigation by Justice Harris; attorneys file injunction

On the heels of the Finance Minister’s announcement that he will not be dropping the investigation into the Auditor General financial report, the Auditor General herself has gone one step further by filing an injunction to stop the investigation.

Attorneys for Auditor General Jaiwantie Ramdass will appear before Justice Westmin James this afternoon (May 17) to have the investigation led by retired Justice David Harris and David Benjamin brought to a halt.

Ramdass’ legal team filed the injunction as a matter of urgency on the grounds the investigation is to be completed and a report submitted to the Minister of Finance within two months. 

“Both the Auditor General and the State are equally entitled to know whether this investigation is permitted by law,” the letter said. “Should this investigation be allowed, it has grave and serious implications for the Office of the Auditor General and hence it is important that this matter be dealt with expeditiously in the public interest.”

Imbert, in his response to a pre-action protocol letter sent by Freedom Law Chambers, led by Senior Counsel Anand Ramlogan, explained that the purpose of the investigation was not to remove the Auditor General as Ramdass’ legal team claimed.  

Ramdass’ attorneys contend the investigation is unconstitutional and illegal because neither the Minister nor the Cabinet has constitutional jurisdiction and lawful authority to probe the action and conduct of the Auditor General outside section 136 of the Constitution.

Imbert’s attorneys said Section 136 of the Constitution provides for the removal of the Auditor General from office by the President of the Republic on the advice of a Tribunal. Imbert’s attorneys said that was not the purpose of the investigation and that the team was not tasked with exercising disciplinary control over public officers.

The letter laid out the purpose of the two-man investigation commissioned by the Government to “investigate an error in the public accounts submitted to the Auditor General resulting in an understatement of revenue in the amount of $2,599,278,188.72; the Auditor General’s initial refusal to consider that error after it was discovered and her reasons for refusing to do so; the serious allegation that public accounts submitted to the Auditor General were backdated and other grave allegations made by the Auditor General in relation to those accounts, and that the Auditor General issued an audit report in respect of the public accounts submitted to her which contained a disclaimer.”

Ramdass’ attorneys said she had no intention to avoid the investigation, however, she will only participate if the probe is deemed to be legal.

“The Auditor General is concerned to ensure that the Constitution and the rule of law are protected, upheld and vindicated,” the letter said.  “This will not be accomplished if she is subjected to an investigation that is fundamentally flawed. This investigation is liable to be quashed on the ground that it is vitiated by bias and declared null and void and of no legal effect.”