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Wednesday 24 July 2019
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Maha Sabha accuses EOC of unfair treatment

Hijab ban at Lakshmi Girls’ High School

THE Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) has complained of unfair treatment by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) and its chairman, Lynette Seebaran-Suite.

It is also threatening to file its own complaint against the commission.

In a letter to Seebaran-Suite on Tuesday, attorney Kiel Tacklalsingh, for the SDMS, complained of statements made by the EOC and its chairman relating to its position in the ongoing controversy over a hijab ban at the Lakshmi Girls’ High School.

Previously, lawyers representing SDMS which operates the school, wrote to EOC chairman about issues with her organisation’s statements on the issue.

They accused the EOC of improperly soliciting a complaint from on-the-job-trainee (OJT) Nafisah Nakhid. They also pointed out that such an invitation was unprecedented, as such a move has never been undertaken by the High Court, Industrial Court or other superior courts of record in the past.

In response, Seebaran-Suite accused SDMS lawyers of operating under a “total misconception” as to the role and function of the EOC.

However, on Tuesday, Tacklalsingh suggested that it was the EOC and its chairman who were unaware of its roles.

“You and the EOC have acted improperly unlawfully and contrary to what is expected of a public authority with you statute and importance,” Tacklalsingh said. He added that it was regrettable that rather than provide information, the chairman and the EOC digressed into a superficial and irrelevant analysis of their functions in comparison to that of the Equal Opportunities Tribunal.

He told Seebaran-Suite that while the two performed “distinct and different roles under statute,” both entitles did not stand in complete isolation of each other and had a symbiotic relationship as depicted in the conjoined effect of both sections 39 (2) and 41.4 of the of the Equal Opportunities Act. He accused the EOC of undermining the purpose of the commission by its unsolicited opinion in the Nakhid case, and caused reputation harm by rendering any investigative or conciliatory function of the EOC nugatory.

“You seem to make the startling and jurisprudentially incongruent suggestion that the EOC is absolved from impartiality because it does not adjudicate or hear matters.”

Tacklalsingh said the SDMS has noted, with interest, that the EOC remained silent on the recent incident involving a doctor at a public institution who was accused of making malicious comments.

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