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Loans board’s labour dispute takes new twist

FORMER Higher Education Student’s Loans Board (HESLB) Assistant Director of Personnel and Administration, Mr Gabriel Robi, has moved the High Court’s Labour Division to hold contemptuous the board’s Executive Director Abdul Razaq Badru, for allegedly disobedience of court’s order.

This time around, Mr Robi has filed revision proceedings against a decision by the Court’s Registrar, who refused to summon the HESLB boss and show cause why he should not be detained in prison for disobeying the order of reinstating him as awarded by Commission for Mediation and Arbitration (CMA).

In the application placed before Judge Zainab Mruke, Mr Robi, the applicant, is requesting the court to call for the records of proceedings for purposes of revision and setting aside the ruling by the Deputy Registrar given on September 23, 2020. The application in question comes up for mention on March 24.

The applicant has advanced some grounds in his affidavit to support the application, drawing the sequence of events on what happened into the matter, after his employment services with the HESLB was brought to the end on March 19, 2014.

He stated that on March 13, 2018, having heard both parties, the CMA found his termination was unfair and issued its Award, ordering the applicant’s reinstatement to his employment without loss of remuneration.

Having felt aggrieved, the HESLB filed an application for revision before the High Court. The High Court heard the revision and confirmed the CMA Award on July 31, 2019.

When dismissing the Board’s application for revision, Judge Mruke revisited the report given by Controller and Auditor General (CAG) on the years that the Board alleges the applicant to commit the offences complained of.

She found that there was no such audit quarry by the CAG and the Audit Report was addressed to the Chairman of the Board, by then, Prof Anselm Lwoga.

However, Judge Mruke further observed, it was the same board which is said to have initiated disciplinary hearing against the respondent.

“This court wonders, if a statutory Auditor of Government Revenues and Expenditure had confirmed that procedures were followed and there was no any loss or mishandling of procedure, where does the applicant board derive the authority to charge innocent respondent?” the judge queried.

The Board was dissatisfied with the Court’s ruling and filed an application for stay of execution of the Award.

Owing to some defects observed, on April 6, 2020, the court ordered the application to be withdrawn with leave to be re-filed.

On April 21, the applicant filed an application for execution, seeking to be reinstated into his employment. Summonses were issued and served to the Board’s legal counsel and the office of the Solicitor General on May 12, 2020.

The applicant complied with the schedule, but the Board could not. Such application came for mention on May 27, 2020.

There being no application for stay of execution filed, the High Court ordered the same to be heard by way of written submissions where by the schedule of filing was accordingly drawn.

On June 25, 2020 when the matter came for mention, there being no objection to the application for execution, the executing Court order the execution to proceed by ordering reinstatement of the applicant.

Such order was served on the HESLB Chairman and Mr Badru as the Executive Director.

Upon receiving the order of the Executing Court, Mr Badru wrote a letter dated July 2, 2020 addressed to the applicant and copied to the Chief Secretary, Judge in Charge of Labour Court, Board Chairman and Solicitor General, alleging commission of misconducts of the Court executing the reinstatement order.

The applicant states in the affidavit that the Board Executive Chairman refused to honour the order and went on alleging that the reinstatement order issued by the Executing Court was issued in the manner suggesting impropriety and unethical conduct on part of the Executing Court.

It was at that point in time when the applicant filed another application, requesting the Court to subpoena Mr Badru so that he could show cause over such alleged disobedience.

The Board’s Executive Director filed a counter affidavit against the application in question and lodged grounds of objections.

On September 23, 2020, the Court’s Deputy Registrar delivered his ruling and struck out the applicant’s application, holding that the same was incompetent as it could not be used to punish any criminal. Having noted that there were some errors on such decision, the applicant filed the revision proceedings.

Mr Robi was employed by the Board on December 18, 2006 at the position of Assistant Director of Personnel and Administration. He was reporting to the Director of Finance and Administration.

On November 1, 2013 he was asked to go on compulsory leave to allow investigations. Later, he was given charge sheet after 47 days of compulsory leave and required to answer within 14 days.

After answer to the charges, without any explanations he was given other different charges on February 14, 2014. He answered them within 14 days. He was terminated on March 19, 2014.

Being dissatisfied, Mr Robi filed a labour dispute before the CMA. After a long hearing, the CMA ordered the Board to reinstate the employee without loss of remuneration after finding that his dismissal was unfair.

NINE people including some local citizens and Sri ...


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