UPDATED: Injustices Tribunal decisions must be respected - Ombudsman
(Adds MLP reaction)
The Ombudsman, in a Opinion published today, has declared that it is the duty of public authorities and bodies, including those set up under the Constitution such as the Office of the Ombudsman and the Public Service Commission, to acknowledge and, whenever circumstances so warrant, implement decisions by the Tribunal for the Investigation of Injustices.
The Opinion was expressed in a letter sent to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The Ombudsman pointed out that on various occasions his Office is asked to investigate why decisions by the Tribunal for the Investigation of Injustices are not carried out by the authorities to whom these decisions are directed.
“In my view the principles of fair and proper administration in the public sector require each body, whether set up or not under the terms of the Constitution, to accept, respect and implement decisions taken by other authorities as long as these decisions are within the limits of their respective competence and their specific jurisdiction,” the Ombudsman, former Chief Justice Joseph Said Pullicino said.
“This means that while each institution is free to be critical of decisions taken by other authorities in the exercise of the particular functions that are assigned to them within their jurisdiction, including judgements that are issued by the Courts and by Tribunals, it is not admissible that these decisions are not accepted as being final and binding upon any other authority.”
“It is the duty of public authorities and bodies, including those set up under the Constitution such as the Office of the Ombudsman and the Public Service Commission, to acknowledge and, whenever circumstances so warrant, implement judgements including decisions by the Tribunal for the Investigation of Injustices. A ruling by this Tribunal that a citizen had suffered injustice which is not the subject of an appeal in Court or which is confirmed by the Court of Appeal, should be taken as having been amply proven.
"It is the duty of public administration at large to enact recommendations that are issued with a view to rectifying an injustice and, whenever these recommendations envisage an alternative remedy, to do so in the best possible way in favour of a citizen who is aggrieved by an unjust administrative decision,” the Ombudsman said.
The Labour Party said it “warmly welcomed” the Ombudsman’s Opinion.
"The position taken by the Ombudsman in favour of the implementation of decisions taken by the Tribunal wasin line with the position assumed by the MLP for the past few years,” the party said.
The party said that since Dr Joseph Muscat’s election to the leadership, it had launched a series of initiatives so that justice could be done with those people whose case before the tribunal had been upheld, but who had been given no remedy.
Party deputy leader Anglu Farrugia augured that the Ombudsman’s Opinion would lead the government to act quickly in favour of these people. He also noted that recently, both the former PN general secretary Joe Saliba and his successor Paul Borg Olivier that those people who had won their case should be given a remedy.