Court Settles Battle over Late Dr. Surrur

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Both Madam Aminata Turay and Mrs. Addie Valcarcel were sued to court by the lawful widow of Dr. Ernest Surrur, Haja Kalaytu Bun Surrur for restraining her from undertaking her late husband’s funeral arrangement and burial ceremony.

When the matter came up for hearing on 2nd December 2019, Counsel for Madam Aminata Turay and Mrs. Addie Valcarcel, B. Cummings Esq. argued that the High Court lacks the jurisdiction to hear and determine the originating summons dated 25th November 2019, on the basis that the vehicle used by the plaintiff to initiate the court action against the defendants is the wrong vehicle.

Lawyer Cummings further argued that the matter ought to be by originating notice of motion seeking judicial review of the decision from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution that the remains of Dr. Ernest Surrur should be handed over to Madam Aminata Turay and Mrs. Addie Valcarcel for the funeral arrangement and burial.

According to her, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution has quasi-judicial functions in giving decisions or advise as the case may be, and that the Plaintiff, Haja Kalaytu Bun Surrur failed to show that she has Locus Standi to file such application as the matrimonial wife of the late Dr. Ernest Surrur.

She also submitted that a copy of the Death Certificate and the cause of death of the deceased were faulty and unlawfully obtained.

Lawyer Cummings concluded that the Plaintiff’s intention is to deprive the beneficiaries of the Estate of the deceased and from taking part in the burial rights of Late Dr. Ernest Surrur.

In reply to lawyer Cummings’ submissions for the court to uphold her preliminary objections, Counsel for the Plaintiff, A.R. Kamara informed the court that her preliminary objections are unfounded and baseless.

A.R. Kamara argued that his Client used the right vehicle to file such application pursuant to Oder (7) Rule (3) of the High Court Rules of 2007.

He explained that that there is no provision in the Constitution of Sierra Leone which states that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution is a quasi-judicial body.

According to barrister A.R. Kamara if Counsel for the defendants wants to challenge the authenticity of cause of death and the Death Certificate of Dr. Ernest Surrur, she must do so by subpoenaing the author of that document, which was produced and issued by the Government Consultant Pathologist, Dr. Simeon Owizz Koroma.

He further submitted that his Client is the lawful widow of Late Dr. Ernest Surrur, and that the court should discountenance the prayers of Counsel for the Defendants and to further dismiss her grounds of objection. 

In his ruling, Hon. Justice Augustine Musa clearly stated that the issues raised by lawyer Cummings in her entire submissions are refused.

He concluded that the court upholds the preliminary objections earlier raised by Counsel for the Defendants, on the grounds that the court lacks jurisdiction and ordered that the originating summons dated 25th November this year be struck out.