Keywords: Wildlife Act – s. 24; hunting licence; plea bargain; nullity; functus officio; costs
This was an appeal by Rajwant Rai of a decision of the Deputy Director to cancel Mr. Rai’s hunting licence for a period of 16½ months and to require Mr. Rai to successfully complete the C.O.R.E. program before his hunting privileges would be reinstated.
The Deputy Director’s decision was based on Mr. Rai having pled guilty to one of four charges under the Wildlife Act (the Crown stayed the other three charges) in relation to an incident where Mr. Rai had shot two ewe mountain sheep when he was only authorized to shoot one. The Deputy Director had originally decided to cancel Mr. Rai’s hunting licence for 18 months, but he declared the decision to be a nullity after discovering that it was erroneously based on Mr. Rai having been convicted on all four charges. After reconsidering the matter, the Deputy Director issued a new decision, which was the subject of this appeal. Mr. Rai claimed that the Deputy Director had no authority to declare his original decision a nullity, and that the cancellation of his hunting licence was unreasonable because a condition of his plea bargain with the Crown specified that no action would be taken against his hunting privileges. Mr. Rai sought an order rescinding the decision of the Deputy Director, and applied for an award of costs.
The Board found that Crown Counsel had no legal authority to guarantee that Mr. Rai’s hunting licence would not be cancelled and, as such, the Deputy Director’s decision was not affected by the plea bargain. The Board also found that the Deputy Director had no authority to declare his previous decision to be a nullity and issue a new decision, because the Deputy Director’s error was not procedural in nature, and the doctrine of functus officio prevents the Deputy Director from revisiting a decision after it has been issued. The Board was also of the view that the period of ineligibility already served by Mr. Rai was not unreasonable in the circumstances. The appeal was allowed, and the Appellant’s application for costs was denied.