A pensioner from Arima, who has been stranded in Canada for almost a year, still intends to continue her lawsuit against the Ministry of National Security’s ongoing exemption policy despite being granted one to return.
Guardian Media understands that the offer of an exemption for Radhikar Ramoutar was given as the ministry’s lawyers were responding to her recent legal threat on Monday.
In the letter, which was obtained by Guardian Media, the ministry’s legal counsel Karissa Singh again requested additional time for her client to seek legal advice on resolving the dispute without litigation.
A previous request, made after Ramoutar’s legal team dispatched a pre-action protocol letter last week, was denied by Ramoutar’s lawyer Rhea Khan.
“However, given your insistence on an immediate response, we rather suspect that you have already taken a decision to file and nothing we can say will change your mind,” Singh said, as she noted that the exemption policy is also being challenged in other cases.
She claimed that despite Ramoutar’s apparent position, National Security Minister Stuart Young was still willing to grant her an exemption. However, Singh requested information on her previous exemption applications as she noted that the ministry could not find it on its records.
“Because the minister was anxious to deal expeditiously with what he views to be a deserving case, whatever may be the outcome of proceedings which you plan to bring, he gave instructions yesterday, having considered what you said in your letter, that an exemption be granted to your client,” Singh said.
In a response to Singh, Khan said her client was grateful for the exemption but still wanted to pursue the case.
“Her acceptance of the exemption is based upon the desperate position in which she now finds herself and is not to be construed as a waiver of her right to continue with these legal proceedings,” Khan said.
Khan also challenged Singh’s claim that additional legal advice may lead to the settlement of the case.
“Our client is of the resolute view that the use of this regulation, which has resulted in the exile of herself and her fellow citizens from their country is an unforgivable atrocity, which could only be resolved with the immediate revocation of regulation 10,” she said.
Khan also sought to explain the reason behind her decision to initially refuse to grant the ministry an extension of time to seek further legal advice and reply.
“Our client is elderly, suffers from various medical ailments, and can no longer financially sustain herself in Canada. In those circumstances, we were of the view that our client met the threshold for urgency to abridge the pre-action protocol requirements,” Khan said.
However, Khan agreed to grant the ministry the requested time as she admitted the proposed exemption for Ramoutar made the determination of the case less urgent. She also noted that her client’s case was different from the similar lawsuits identified by the ministry.
According to the initial pre-action protocol letter, the 74-year-old went to Canada in February, last year, to console her daughter, whose husband had recently passed away.
Her lawyers claimed that she planned to only stay two weeks and only carried enough medication and money to last that period.
They claimed that Ramoutar sought an exemption from Young in July, last year, but did not receive a favourable response. They contended that their client’s health began to decline because of her situation and she had to spend $7,000 Canadian dollars in medical expenses.
“On one such occasion due to the stress and anguish of her situation, directly attributable to your unlawful decision, she underwent hospitalisation because of dangerously elevated blood pressure,” they said, as they noted that their client’s pension benefits were discontinued or suspended as she was unable to present herself to local officials.
Ramoutar is also being represented by Dinesh Rambally, Kiel Taklalsingh and Stefan Ramkissoon.