Thursday, October 25, 2007

Court Rules Government Must Reinstate Sacked Employee

By Ajay Makan
October 24, 2007

State broadcaster Television Maldives must reinstate a sacked employee and compensate him for lost earnings, the Civil Court ordered today.

Judge Mohamed Naeem found assistant producer Muaz Ali was unfairly dismissed after a TVM internal investigation into leaked documents last December.

Muaz must be paid Rf 14,731 within two weeks after the civil court reversed a Government dismissal for the first time ever.

Muaz was one of three producers suspended in December 2006 following a TVM investigation into leaked documents published on a Maldives website.

At the time TVM CEO Ali Khalid denied the men had been suspended for misconduct. But in March they were sacked for “violating ethics, spreading false rumours and disrupting team meetings.”

Today Judge Naeem found Muaz had not broken any Government employment regulation.

Muaz told Minivan News he felt “vindicated,” by the ruling, pointing out, “I have always denied any wrongdoing.”

He described his sacking as “arbitrary,” and said TVM executives had “treated staff with disrespect,” in the week long investigation in December.

Muaz alleged cliques and favouritism are rampant within the state broadcaster.

“Friend of the executives are given preferential treatment. The old guard dominate the new staff, even though many of us are better qualified,” he said.

TVM falls under the Information Ministry, and in August minister Mohamed Nasheed revealed he had authorised the sackings.

Defending the dismissals on his blog, the minister said, “I did what is good for the organisation [TVM].”

It is only the third time the Government has been found guilty of wrongful dismissal. Both other decisions have come within the past three months.

Muaz’s lawyer, Husnu Al Suood, said the recent rulings should, “build confidence among employees to discharge their duties independently, without fear of dismissal.”

“For too long we have seen Government sackings go unchallenged, because of fear of retaliation,” the prominent opposition activist added.

The Information Ministry has declined to comment on today’s verdict or say whether it is planning to appeal. It has yet to pay compensation to Muaz's colleague Ilham Ahmed, who won his wrongful dismissal case last month. Ahmed Zahir, the third sacked producer, is expecting a verdict next month.

Suood called on the Government to “respect the verdict.”

Muaz told Minivan News, “I am looking forward to reporting to work in two weeks.”

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