The former Director of the Pharmacy Department of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital has filed contempt proceedings at the Human Rights Court against the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the hospital and two others.
Mrs Elizabeth Bruce wants the CEO, Dr Gilbert Buckle, and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Prof. Anthony Mawuli Sallar, to be convicted and imprisoned for bringing the court’s authority into disrepute. The hospital has been attached as an entity.
The application for committal for contempt, filed on the applicant’s behalf by her lawyer, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, wants the court to imprison Prof. Sallar and Dr Buckle.
Another relief being sought from the court is the imposition of “a very heavy fine” on the hospital as an entity. Mrs Bruce, in April 2015, took legal action after she was interdicted in January 2015 for allegedly misappropriating funds at the Pharmacy Department.
The court was yet to hear the matter, after the hospital had filed its defence, but the respondents proceeded to dismiss her in June 2015. Hearing of the contempt application has been fixed for July 8, 2015.
Affidavit in support
An affidavit in support of the filed motion for contempt sworn by Mrs Bruce and mailed to the Daily Graphic via the Internet averred that “following an unlawful ‘forensic audit’ exercise by a private firm of chartered accountants pursuant to an unlawful appointment by the Minister of Health, I was unlawfully interdicted on 29th January, 2015 by the respondent herein, without recourse to the mandatory provisions of the Ghana Health Service and Teaching Hospitals Act, 1996 (Act 525) and the Civil Service Regulations, 1960 (L. I. 47)”. The affidavit noted that after her interdiction, an Administrative Enquiry Committee was unlawfully set up by the respondents to establish her culpability, if any, in the findings of the forensic audit exercise.
Giving the background to the case, it said on April 10, 2015, the applicant instituted a civil action for a number of reliefs, which included an order for her reinstatement.
It noted that the respondents were fully aware of the pendency of the suit but nevertheless proceeded to dismiss her through the issuance of a press release dated June 17, 2015.
“That I am advised by counsel and verily believe same to be true that the press statement purporting to dismiss me issued by the board and management of the 3rd respondent herein, of whom the 2nd and 3rd respondents herein are their respective heads, in the pendency of the instant action, was calculated at interfering with and obstructing the due administration of justice and, in the event, bring the authority of a court of competent jurisdiction into disrepute,” the affidavit in support of the motion noted.
Prof. Sallar, Dr Buckle and the hospital are the first, second and third respondents, respectively.
Validity of dismissal
It noted that the validity of the basis of the applicant’s purported dismissal was the very subject matter of the action, which was currently pending before the court and “a fact all the respondents were undoubtedly aware of”.
It continued, “I am further advised by counsel and verily believe same to be true that the act of the respondents in dismissing me while the substantive suit seeking to question the validity of every aspect of the purported disciplinary measures being taken by 3rd respondent was pending was intended to frustrate me from a pursuit of the action and also prejudice the hearing and fair determination of the suit.
“That I am advised by counsel and verily believe same to be true that the conduct of the respondents was wilful and clearly intended to subvert or overreach any judgement to be rendered by this Honourable Court and same was out of disrespect for the court’s authority in this suit.”
It said Prof. Sallar and Dr Buckle’s “wilful disregard of the authority of this court makes them inexcusably liable to be committed to prison, while a hefty fine ought to be imposed on the 3rd respondent in order to vindicate the undoubted authority of the court”.