In his substantive claim, Singh said because of the discriminatory practices at his workplace, he has missed numerous opportunities to act as in a higher position because his degree in Resource, Recreation and Tourism was not recognised and did not constitute a Bachelor of Science in Forestry.
He said in April 2015, his complaint was acknowledged by Ombudsman Lynette Stevenson, SC, and he was promised a response but never received one and this prompted him to file the FOIA request. Singh said he was informed by the Ombudsman that her office was not a public authority subject to the FOIA.
He filed a judicial review claim in May 2016 which was dismissed by Justice Andre des Vignes in March of this year.
Singh appealed and the judge’s ruling was reversed by a majority decision in the appeal court. Singh’s attorney, former attorney general Anand Ramlogan argued before Justices of Appeal Allan Mendonca, Nolan Bereaux and Peter Rajkumar that the Office of the Ombudsman was set up by the Constitution and financed by tax payers with public funds. He said the Office of the Ombudsman had an important rule and function as it provided an avenue for the average citizen to seek redress for injustice caused by faults in public administration.
He said the law provided that elected Members of Parliament could refer aggrieved constituents to the Ombudsman for assistance and the issue of whether the Ombudsman was governed by the FOIA was an important issue that should be determined in the public interest.
In their majority ruling, delivered by Justice Rajkumar, the court agreed that it was one of public interest and reversed the order of the high court, granting permission to Singh to pursue his judicial review claim. Also appearing for Singh were attorneys Jayanti Lutchmedial, Douglas Bayley instructed by Alana Rambaran.
The Ombudsman was represented by Elton Prescott,SC, and Rikki Harnanan.