For the first time since Independence, this country will temporarily be without a Commissioner of Police. Delivering a 58-page judgement, a short while ago, High Court Judge Nadia Kangaloo upheld an interpretation lawsuit from social activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj, in which he (Maharaj) claimed that the Police Service Commission needed the approval of the House of Representatives to make acting and substantive appointments for the Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCPs).
Kangaloo’s decision in the case effectively invalidated the acting appointment given to former police commissioner Gary Griffith after his three-year stint in the post ended in mid-August. It also invalidated the acting appointment given to DCP McDonald Jacob after Griffith went on leave and was temporarily suspended by the Commission due to its probe into the issuing of firearm user’s licenses (FULs).
Even if Maharaj’s lawsuit was dismissed, Jacob would not have been able to continue the post while Griffith remained on leave pending the completion of the probe, as per his (Griffith) settlement with the Commission over the suspension, as Jacob’s acting appointment was due to end at midnight tonight.
The appointment of a new acting commissioner under the process affirmed by Justice Kangaloo can only begin after the Commission is reconstituted. The commission is currently memberless as even though retired Justice of Appeal Judith Jones and consultant Maxine Attong were nominated, earlier this week, they still require Parliamentary approval to be appointed.
While under the Constitution, the Commission consists of a Chairman and four members, decisions can be taken with a quorum of three. The Commission is currently barred from completing the process of selecting a list of candidates for the substantive post, to be approved by Parliament, based on an injunction obtained by acting Senior Supt Anand Ramesar. He is challenging the decision of the former Commission members to not select him to move on to the interview stage of their recruitment process. That injunction remains in place until Ramesar’s lawsuit comes up for hearing before Justice Joan Charles in two weeks’ time.
Maharaj was represented by Anand Ramlogan, SC, Renuka Rambhajan, Jayanti Lutchmedial, Jared Jagroo, Natasha Bisram, and Vishaal Siewsaran. The AG’s Office was represented by Douglas Mendes, SC, Rishi Dass, and Tenille Ramkissoon. Senior Counsel Russell Martineau led the Commission’s legal team, while Larry Lalla represented Griffith.
Reporter: Derek Achong