Court guard wins wrongful dismissal case against NJSS

National, Normal


THE WAIGANI National Court has ordered the Magisterial Services to reinstate a former security guard who was sacked in 2005.
Prai Ipandi, the plaintiff, was engaged by the National Judicial Staff Service (NJSS) as a security guard in February 1992.
The court heard that Ipandi was made a permanent officer with the NJSS in June 1999.
At that time, the NJSS was responsible, under the NJSS Act, for providing administrative support to the Supreme Court, the National Court and the District Courts. Mr Ipandi was transferred to the Magisterial Services to work there when the administrative support system for the district courts were separated from other courts in 2003.
The court heard that Mr Ipandi was charged with some disciplinary offences in 2005 and the director of Magisterial Service dismissed him.
Aggrieved by his dismissal, Mr Ipandi applied for leave to seek judicial review of the director’s decision and leave was granted. A further trial was conducted.
Mr Ipandi’s main grounds of argument were that the director had no power to charge or punish him, as he was still an officer of the NJSS and could only be charged and punished by the secretary of the NJSS.
He also argued that the notice of charges laid on him was so vague and confusing that he was denied natural justice.
Justice David Cannings found that there was overwhelming evidence to prove that the magisterial services director had no power to lay charges and order the sacking of the plaintiff.
Justice Cannings said Mr Ipandi had been denied natural justices as the disciplinary charges were vague and confusing and made no grammatical sense. He found that there was no formal description or explanation of the charges, which left Ipandi confused when he was sacked.
Justice Cannings ordered the director of the Magisterial Service to reinstate Mr Ipandi to his former or equivalent position in the Magisterial Services within 30 days.
He also ordered that his pay and other entitlements be backdated to Oct 5, 2007.