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19.07.2008 Health

Court upholds Vets' suit

By myjoyonline
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An Accra Fast Track Court has directed the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to maintain in office, all veterinary surgeons who held positions as District Directors of Agriculture before September 20, 2006

Those who have been removed should also be reinstated, the court directed.

The court, presided over by Mr Justice Victor Ofoe, an Appeal Court judge, sitting as an additional judge of the High Court, gave the order in a suit filed by members of the Association of Veterinary Surgeons, which indicated that following a new policy embarked upon in the ministry, they had been reduced in rank, and discriminated against, in contravention of the Constitution.

The court held that the ministry's action in posting some members of the association to new positions lower than what they held previously amounted to a reduction in rank, adding that the policy that veterinary surgeons could not aspire to the position of district directors and beyond was discriminatory and offensive to the spirit and letter of the Constitution.

It awarded costs of GH¢3,OOO in favour of the plaintiffs.

The suit was filed on behalf of the association by Dr L.K. Alorvor, a veterinary officer of the ministry.

The judge said: "I cannot imagine any administrative action as unfair as these postings complained of by the plaintiffs. We are here dealing with veterinary doctors and Dr Alorvor, the evidence is clear, is a veterinary surgeon involved in policy planning, monitoring and evaluation. He is one of the few experts in animal reproduction through artificial insemination and is currently a principal veterinary officer. He is being posted to Kpando where the defendants admit there are no facilities for his technical job."

It held that under Article 23 of the Constitution administrative bodies and their officials are required to act fairly and reasonably and comply with the requirements imposed on them by law, and persons aggrieved by the exercise of such acts of decisions shall have the right to seek redress before the court or tribunal.

It said that although the ministry had the duty to adopt and implement policies to increase food production, it was enjoined to have regard to existing laws and practices that did not create discrimination within its ranks.

The court said evidence before it indicated that the veterinary officers could be district directors of agriculture and regional directors of agriculture and that some were occupying those positions but the posting resulted in those people being ejected from their bungalows and their official vehicles impounded.

Their posting resulted in some of them being put under the headship of district directors who were their juniors and who would be involved in their appraisal, the court noted, adding that after entering the public service as veterinary officers, the postings had sent them back to that same position.

Sources: The Ghanaian Times

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