The High Court in Blantyre has maintained an order that earlier set aside an Industrial Relations Court (IRC) ruling reinstating former Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) deputy commissioner general Roza Mbilizi.
Court documents show that Mbilizi sought relief from the IRC in her claim of unfair dismissal from MRA. The IRC ruled in her favour and ordered her reinstatement with full benefits.
Following the IRC order, the MRA applied for a judicial review and an injunction, including an order putting aside implementation of the IRC ruling. High Court Judge Dingiswayo Madise granted the public tax collector its wish.
But Mbilizi later joined the case as an interested party and further asked the court to reverse Madise’s decision to set aside the stay order and injunction on the basis that she will be affected by the court processes.
Besides, she argued that the case can proceed while the stay order and injunction are in place.
Mbilizi also said she would be able to pay back her salary and benefits given to her if the court rules against her pending conclusion of the judicial review proceedings.
But MRA argued that Mbilizi does not have the capacity to pay back the benefits nor did she prove to the court despite presenting a land certificate as proof.
Through its lawyer Patrick Mpaka, MRA also argued that it would do harm if the decision by the IRC would be sustained in regards to the public interest.
In his ruling on Thursday, High Court Judge Mike Tembo said the court agreed with MRA that there is high likelihood that harm would be done to the public interest if decisions are made by the IRC effectively granting full remedy of reinstatement without scrutinising merits of the dismissal.
He also observed that the IRC is only allowed by the Labour Relations Act to sit alone without panelists where questions of law only are an issue.
While stressing that facts of the case are of serious public interest that weigh strongly in tilting the balance of justice in favour of continuing the stay and injunction order granted, Tembo said such issues must be determined by way of judicial review while the stay order is in place.
The judge said: “In the foregoing premises, this court orders the continuation of the order of stay and injunction granted by my brother judge and declines to discharge the same.”
The court documents further indicate that the IRC delivered its ruling without hearing the side of MRA. When contacted yesterday, Mpaka described Tembo’s ruling as fair and balanced.