I received a deluge of messages regarding the ruling on the wrongful dismissal matter involving the former provost of The University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) Dr Fazal Ali. As the former registrar of UTT who is also awaiting his day in court, I found Justice Frank Seepersad’s words to be quite interesting:
“The process which was engaged was devoid of merit and has no place in a plural, civilised society which adheres to the tenets of democracy, fairness and equality.”
This court will not sanction the conduct which was engaged.
“The board operated in a manner which was shameful, offensive, deliberate, discriminatory, high-handed and reprehensible. The conduct of the board must be punished and a proportionate award of aggravated damages must be made so as to reflect the blameworthiness of the defendant’s conduct and to signal to all Government-appointed boards that the behaviour exhibited in this case will not be tolerated or condoned by the court.”
Reflection is good for the soul, but has the soul of the national university gone so bad that it is incapable of discerning the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, decency and indecency or shamefulness and shamelessness? UTT has a dismal track record in the courts of Trinidad and Tobago, with a litigation schedule that stretches from Tamana in the East to the Tarouba Bypass in San Fernando.
What I find to be “shameful, offensive, deliberate, discriminatory, high-handed and reprehensible” is that the court award, as well as the legal fees for both sides, will come from the pockets of taxpayers. Those responsible for this debacle, and whose conduct must be punished so as to reflect the blameworthiness of their conduct, will escape with a mere tongue-lashing in the High Court. No action is to be expected for those who appointed them.
Meanwhile, those of us who pay their salaries, while being subjected to their victimisation, will continue to also have to financially support them to defend themselves while we cannot afford to pay to defend or feed ourselves.
Despite sending a strong message to all Government-appointed boards, these are seldom internalised by political appointees on these State boards. Realistically, therefore, there is no protection for the rest of us in a plural society that is fast approaching uncivilised status, with no respect for the tenets of democracy, fairness and equality.
Although the board is ultimately accountable for this grave injustice, what of its advisers, consultants and informants? They must all leave now and take their knees off of the neck of our university and allow it to breathe.
UTT matters...our children’s future matters.
Phillip L Robinson
former UTT registrar