Friday 24 May, 2019

Agri Minister faces lawsuit over land dispute

A pre-action protocol letter has been issued to Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Minister Clarence Rambharat over his decision to terminate a land lease contract which was awarded to acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Deodath Dulalchan.

This follows Minister Rambharat’s announcement of the decision last week.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Angela Siew, Commissioner of State Lands Paula Drakes and the Deputy Commissioner of State Lands Bhanmatie Seecharan have all been suspended pending an investigation into the matter by the Public Service Commission.

Mounting his defence, acting DCP Dulalchan retained the services of attorney Kiel Tacklalsingh of Fortis Chamber to represent him in the dispute. Tacklalsingh, in a letter penned to the Minister on Monday, signalled his client’s intention to sue.

The attorney argued that his client was the legitimate holder of the license to “enter upon the subject lands for the purpose of cultivating the same, pending Cabinet approval of a State Agricultural lease.” He also denied that his client was involved in any misconduct in receiving the license which was issued by the Commissioner of State Lands.

Therefore, he gave the Minister until 4 pm on Wednesday to provide certain documentation which includes a report which he allegedly sent to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on the matter. The Minister was also urged to stop all activity related to the issue as well as provide a written retraction and apology to Dulalchan for his comments.

Acting DCP Dulalchan is in the running and remains the top pick to be this country’s Commissioner of Police.

Through his attorney, he accused Rambharat of injuring his public image which would ultimately affect his chances of being appointed.

“Your comments and actions and instructions, publication and transmission of an unlawful report, all of which have been done in the full glare of the public, have not only caused him to suffer reputational harm but may have undermined the public’s confidence in his ability to execute his professional duties and further threaten to tarnish and ruin a career of excellence which he has carefully culled and grafted to the past 25 years.”

The attorney also criticized the Minister’s handling of the matter as he said his client was not given an opportunity to defend himself in the circumstances.

The lawyer warned that if the investigation and preparation of the report were expedited “for the purposes of diminishing his chance of appointment as Commissioner of Police”, it would constitute misfeasance in public office.


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