Dr Avinash Sawh fails in bid to stop disciplinary tribunal

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Dr Avinash Sawh. – File Photo

A HIGH COURT judge has dismissed as “destructive, farfetched, frivolous and vexatious” allegations made by Dr Avinash Sawh against a very senior attorney who also sits on the Medical Board’s council in his bid to stop the tribunal investigation allegations against him.

Sawh faces two charges “infamous and disgraceful” conduct and is accused of making racist statements in phone calls with a former employee.

The Medical Board has set up a tribunal to investigate the charges. In early September, Sawh raised a concern of bias against a member of the council because of her marriage to a university professor who has championed African rights and is a Black Power Movement activist from the 70s.

Sawh’s attorneys filed an emergency application to stop the work of the disciplinary tribunal pending determination of his lawsuit over the rejected recusal move.

Sawh alleged the professor’s views were similar to views made by the African Students Union, a student club at the University of the West Indies’ Mt Hope campus, which has filed one of the complaints complaint against him.

The member, a senior counsel, sits as the representative of the Law Association on the council.

In a stern oral ruling on Saturday, Justice Frank Seepersad said the application and the supporting affidavit were the worst he has seen in his ten years as a judge.

In denying Sawh leave to pursue his judicial review claim, he said it was devoid of merit, frivolous and vexatious.

“There is nothing to convince this court that this case has a reasonable prospect of success,” he said.

He said he was disappointed that it was believed that the application was one that ought to have been made on a weekend and on an emergency basis.

Seepersad, in dismissing the “shocking application” with costs, said there was absolutely no evidence to support Sawh’s bias claim because of the marital relationship of a member of the tribunal.

He also said the application was divisive and destructive.

“One has to consider, in society, we have seen better times because of the pandemic and economic stresses…Everyone is on edge but what is needed is a measured and moderate approach to issues.

“Notwithstanding our differences, we have to live and coexist together and we have to work together and put aside any inherent bias and differences and understand our future is dependent on a unified approach to progress and productivity.

‘The inferences the court has been invited to make are so far-fetched that the logical consequences would make this a society ungovernable and completely dysfunctional.”

The tribunal was expected to sit at 2 pm on Saturday, for a case management hearing. However, that had to be adjourned because of Sawh’s emergency application to the High Court. It will now sit on October 29.

Sawh was accused of making racist statements in phone calls with a former female employee last November. In the recording, when the employee threatened to have the police intervene, Sawh referred to policemen as “dunce n—ers” and to Afro-Trinidadians as “monkeys.”

Sawh later apologised to the woman and anyone else offended by his comments.

It is alleged that Sawh’s conduct in the recording of the telephone call “may have amounted to infamous and disgraceful conduct under Section 24 of the Medical Board Act.”

The charge

Nature of Charge – Infamous or Disgraceful Conduct – Section 24(5)(i)

Particulars of Charge – It is alleged that you Dr Avinash Sawh while being a member of the Medical Board participated in a conversation which was recorded and put into the public domain in which you made comments that are capable of amounting to infamous and disgraceful conduct you being a member of the Medical Board of Trinidad and Tobago.

Nature of Charge – Infamous or Disgraceful Conduct – Section 24(5)(i) Particulars of Charge: – It is alleged that you Dr Avinash Sawh while being a member of the Medical Board posted on social media certain tweets that are attributed to your name and which are capable of amounting to infamous and disgraceful conduct you being a member of the Medical Board of TT.