‘Inexcusable delay;’ Judge says no to FoIA information for fired Rambarran

“Mr Rambarran was found by the Court to be guilty of NON-DISCLOSURE in filing his claim. In his media release of December 26th, 2015, he failed to disclose that he had been invited to meetings with the Minister of Finance prior to the revocation of his appointment. Additionally, in his Monetary Policy Forum address on December 4th, 2015, Mr Rambarran disclosed the names of major foreign exchange users.”

The following media release on the court’s decision, issued by Finance Minister Colm Imbert, was submitted to Wired868 by the Corporate Communications Unit of the Ministry of Finance:

Photo: Former Central Bank governor Jwala Rambarran.
(Courtesy news.gov.tt)

In July 2016, the Claimant, Jwala Rambarran, commenced Judicial Review proceedings in the High Court to compel the Cabinet to provide him with a Statement of Reasons under the Judicial Review Act in relation to the revocation of his appointment as Governor of the Central Bank Governor in December 2015. He also sought, under the Freedom of Information Act, to gain access to various correspondence (sic) between the Minister of Finance, the Office of the Prime Minister and the Office of the President. This is in relation to the decision of the Cabinet to advise the President to revoke his appointment as Governor.

In delivering her ruling on April 20th, 2018, Justice Nadia Kangaloo dismissed Mr Rambarran’s application for the said Statement of Reasons, finding that there was non-excusable and insurmountable delay on his part. The Claimant requested the Statement of Reasons five (5) and a half months after the revocation of his appointment when Section 16 of the Judicial Review Act provides for such requests to be made within twenty-eight (28) days.

Further, Mr Rambarran was found by the Court to be guilty of NON-DISCLOSURE in filing his claim. In his media release of December 26th, 2015, he failed to disclose that he had been invited to meetings with the Minister of Finance prior to the revocation of his appointment. Additionally, in his Monetary Policy Forum address on December 4th, 2015, Mr Rambarran disclosed the names of major foreign exchange users.

In delivering her judgment, Justice Kangaloo found it highly incredible that Mr Rambarran could at this stage not know the reasons for his dismissal, which were clearly stated in the Affidavit filed by the Minister of Finance.

With respect to the Claimant’s request to view correspondence under the Freedom of Information Act, the Court refused.

Photo: Finance Minister Colm Imbert, seen here responding to questions in Parliament, filed an affidavit that gave the reasons for the governor’s dismissal.
(Copyright WEFM)

As practised locally and in the Commonwealth, the Court instead accepted Cabinet’s offer, made in its legal submissions filed on January 11th, 2018, to view the requested Cabinet Note and Minute to aid in its determination of the matter.

The Court, in its ruling today, has directed that the Defendant produce the said documents under the strict seal of confidentiality. The Court will then consider same to determine whether there are any portions of it which may be of use to Mr Rambarran and which may be disclosed to him in redacted form. The Court has, however, indicated that any parts of the Cabinet Note and Minute which contain legal opinions considered by the Cabinet would not be disclosed to Mr Rambarran.

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