Court quashes decision of Ghana Standards Authority Board to transfer two senior staff

A High Court in Accra, has ruled out the decision of the Board of the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) to transfer two of its senior staff who are undertaking approved courses of study out of their station.

It said it was “procedurally at variance” with the Authority’s Transfer Policy.

“An order of certiorari is hereby issued against the decision of the governing board of the respondent (GSA Board) to transfer the two applicants (Richard Asiedu Ofori and Evans Asiedu).

The court presided over by Mrs Justice Gifty Agyei Addo, also quashed the order of certiorari as same was not procedural in tune with the GSA ‘s Transfer Policy.

The court, however, dismissed the application against George Omane-Twumasi, a senior staff and applicant in the case.

According to the court, Omane-Twumasi, placed before the court an exhibit that he was pursuing  an ongoing three-year course in Law at the University of Professional Studies, Accra, but “there is no indication before the respondent (GSA) that approved the said study leave by way of a letter to that effect or that his (Omane-Twumasi) tuition fee, like that of the other two applicants, was paid by the GSA.”

The court declined to award costs against the GSA Board.

The applicants are George Omane-Twumasi, a Director of Meteorology, Richard Asiedu Ofori and Evans Asiedu, both senior officers from the Meteorology Department of GSA.

The three senior personnel of the Meteorology Department of the GSA, on January 26, 2021, dragged the GSA Board to court following their improper transfer to new positions and places.

The three held that the improper action by the GSA Board was at variance with the Wednesbury principles of illegality, irrationality, and procedural impropriety.

They contended that their transfer by the Director-General of the GSA was done out of malice and hatred hence placed an injunction on their transfer.

According to the applicants the decision to transfer two of them (Mr Ofori and Mr Evans Asiedu) who were currently pursuing a fully funded Doctor of Management Course at the GIMPA Campus in Accra, to places outside Accra would truncate their studies and same would be counterproductive to the corporate interest of the respondent.

The three applicants also filed an order of certiorari and a judicial review application against the decision of the governing Board of the GSA contained in letters dated December 29, 2021.

The applicants held that the decision to transfer them from their present post was tainted with “unfairness, unreasonableness, arbitrariness and same was capricious and actuated by resentment or personal dislike” towards them.

They also held that the GSA breached Artile1, 5. 6 of its policy on transfer that bars the Authority from transferring employees undergoing approved courses of study.

The applicants recounted that their positions had been outsourced by the GSA to a private company known as ITRAMAS.

The Plaintiffs contended that on December 24, 2021, they received individual e-mails that they had been transferred to various offices of the GSA.

On January 4, this year, Mr Asiedu, and Mr Omane-Twumasi received their transfer letters to the Eastern and Bono East Regions respectively as regional managers, a designation completely alien to the GSA scheme of service.

Mr Ofori was, however, transferred to the Physical Science Directorate as Director at the Head Office.

“The roles assigned to us at our new placement, upon our transfers, are entirely at variance with our current respective area of specialties in which we have undergone rigorous training regime for the past 19 years at huge cost to the state.

That the three months prior notice of transfer stipulated in Article 30 of the GSA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with its employees was roundly breached by the governing board and the Director General of the GSA as the applicants were given less than two weeks’ notice to proceed on their respective transfers,” the applicants held.

They, therefore, petitioned and officially wrote to the governing board citing cogent reasons why the decision to transfer them should be reversed/ reviewed.

Thereafter, the Scientific Staff Association, GSA local Union and Concerned Staff of Meteorology Directorate among others on separate occasions wrote to state reasons for the board to reverse its decision.

The applicants are of the view that the decision to transfer was “premeditated by the current Director General of the GSA because he had stated previously that he would deal ruthlessly with the applicants.

They were therefore praying the court to declare the decision of the governing board as “unreasonable, arbitrary and contrary to due process and same contravened their rights guaranteed under Article 23 and 296 of the 1992 Constitution and relevant provisions of the GSA CBA and Policy on transfer.

Additionally, the applicants are praying for an order of certiorari to bring up before the court the decision of the governing board on their transfers to be quashed.

The GSA through its Director of Administration had however filed its affidavits in response to the application for review, saying the applicant’s transfers were “perfectly legitimate and a normal administrative arrangement” that would enhance the effective and efficient delivery of the services of GSA.

According to the Authority, “the transfer of the applicants is part of ongoing general transfer being made by the respondent (GSA): of which 14 staff have been transferred so far this year.”

The GSA reiterated that the position of a director within the authority did not require specialised qualification tailored to the respective directorate and that the position of a director was largely and merely administrative or managerial in nature.

According to the GSA Board (respondent) the Director General” had at no time threatened or exhibited any threatening behaviour towards the applicants as alleged.

“That contrary to the impression created by the applicants in their affidavit is in support of the transfers were made neither limited to the applicants alone nor resorted to as a punitive measure,” the respondent held.

According to the respondent, applicants’ previous positions had not been outsourced to ITRAMAS as alleged.

The GSA denied the allegation that the decision to transfer the applicants was premeditated by the Director General of the GSA.

The Authority opined that the decision to transfer the applicants “is fair and reasonable in all circumstances” and denied that the decision to transfer them was arbitrary and capricious or actuated by any personal dislike of the applicants as alleged.

It said the Director General of the Authority “is not enjoined by the any law, rule of practice or convention to discuss decisions of staff transfer with his deputies and that failure to discuss the said transfers do not in any way nullify the transfer, ”

The GSA Board contended that the various transfers received by the applicants were not intended to proscribe the board from always transferring them as employees and, transfers were pursued to ensure that its employees become more efficient in managerial roles wherever they find themselves.

“There has not been any change in the remuneration and conditions of services of the applicants by reason of their transfer,” the respondent opined.

The GSA Board, therefore, prayed the court to dismiss the application for judicial review as same was frivolous and vexatious and an abuse of the court process.

Source: GNA

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