Can a civil servant be dismissed from employment by a local authority without affording him the right to be heard?
PIHAK BERKUASA TATATERTIB MAJLIS PERBANDARAN SEBERANG PERAI & ANOR v. MUZIADI MUKHTAR  1 CLJ 1
- Pihak Berkuasa Tatatertib Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai, a local authority responsible for the conduct and discipline of all its servants (“Local Authority”), received an anonymous letter pertaining to the involvement of Muziadi Mukhtar (“Civil Servant”), a senior security guard, in the crime resulting in his conviction at the Magistrates’ Court 4 years ago.
- An internal investigation committee was convened to inquire into the allegations in the letter.
- During the inquiry, the Civil Servant admitted to having committed the offence and gave his version of the events.
- The Local Authority terminated the employment of the Civil Servant in public interest pursuant to regulation 50 of the Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Municipal Council of the Province Wellesley Regulations 1995.
- Termination in public interest means the Civil Servant would still be entitled to his pension and benefits.
- The Civil Servant was required to submit certain documents for purposes of calculating his pension and other retirement benefits.
- However, the Civil Servant rejected the Local Authority’s decision.
- In the meantime, the Local Authority took the suggestion of its secretariat and revoked its decision to terminate the Civil Servant’s employment.
- Instead the Local Authority, took disciplinary action against the Civil Servant by dismissing his employment.
- Dismissing his employment means the Civil Servant would not be entitled to his pension and benefits.
- When the Local Authority changed its decision, they did not inform the Civil Servant of their reasons nor did they give him an opportunity to respond.
- Aggrieved, the Civil Servant applied for judicial review at the High Court to quash the decision of the Local Authority.
- The High Court allowed the Civil Servant’s application to quash the Local Authority’s decision on the basis, amongst others, that there was procedural impropriety on the part of the Local Authority.
- The impropriety was not affording the Civil Servant his right to be heard by way of issuing a show cause notice as mandated by section 16(4) of the Local Government Act 1976 (“LGA”).
- The Local Authority appealed to the Court of Appeal, which was dismissed.
- The Local Authority appealed to the Federal Court.
FEDERAL COURT DECISION – APPEAL DISMISSED!
- The Federal Court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the decisions of the Court of Appeal and the High Court.
- The Federal Court held that section 16(4) of the LGA codifies one of the fundamental precepts of the natural justice, which provides that a person should be given the opportunity to be heard before the decision that adversely affects him or her is made.
- The Federal Court held that when the Local Authority decided to change to its dismissing the Civil Servant without pension and benefits, they should have given the Civil Servant the right to be heard which they did not.