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Judge blocks MPATT elections

Friday, April 18, 2014

A High Court judge yesterday ordered the postponement of elections of the Medical Professionals Association of T&T (MPATT) based on objections from a group of doctors. Yesterday the doctors, led by MPATT presidental candidate, Dr Visham Bhimull, were granted an injunction forcing the indefinite postponement of the elections scheduled for last afternoon at MPATT’s Chaguanas head office. Port-of-Spain judge Nadia Kangaloo granted the injunction restraining the MPATT executive from holding the elections.


Kangaloo also ordered MPATT to pay costs for the application, which was heard on Wednesday evening in a special court sitting. MPATT was represented by attorney Rishi Dass.
No date has been set for the substantive hearing of the case. Bhimull, together with doctors Fidel Rampersad, Raj Kamala Reddy Avuthu, Ryan Richardson and Shaun Lynch, through attorneys Devesh Maharaj and Kandace Bharath, had filed for the injunction after their nominations were rejected by the executive. According to the injunction MPATT’s executive, led by incumbent president Dr Ravindranath Narine, is restrained from holding elections pending the determination of the refusal of Rampersad, Avuthu, Richardson and Bhimull’s nomination forms and the suspension of Bhimull and Lynch.


Bhimull and Lynch were suspended from MPATT with immediate effect after an alleged incident at MPATT’s office. They were accused of abusing and threatening the office secretary on April 9. Yesterday Bhimull, in a telephone interview with the T&T Guardian, said he was happy that they were granted the injunction. “I am happy because now we have a chance of free and fair elections which was never the case before. We have empowered doctors. Doctors now see the cause for which we were fighting,” he said. Bhimull said doctors were expressing their ideas on how they were being treated unfairly by MPATT among themselves and “think they have a voice now that this injunction has been granted.”


Narine, when contacted by the T&T Guardian for comment yesterday, said he was in the operating theatre for most of the day at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital and was not aware of the injunction at the time. He added: “The matter is before the court and in the hands our legal people. I am not sure whether I can give you a comment at this time, especially as I am yet to have a look at the actual document.” Yesterday MPATT issued a media release, in which it notified members of the injunction and indefinite postponement of elections. The release stated that MPATT was fully committed to the rule of law and “has every confidence that this matter will be properly adjudicated on in the courts of Trinidad and Tobago in the best interests of all parties involved.”


MPATT, in the release, added that the current executive shall continue to function and execute the business of the union in accordance with MPATT’s constitution and the governing principles of fairness, accountability and transparency. It also added that members would be advised further on the matter and when the special general meeting would be held for the holding of elections.
The release stated that the MPATT Reformers filed for the injunction challenging the legality of elections on the basis of the decision by MPATT to uphold a constitutional regulation of union, which states that prospective candidates who submit their names after the stated nomination deadline for the executive elections did not qualify to contest elections.


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