High Court Judge Nadia Kangaloo is scheduled to hear and determine a lawsuit, over whether the Police Service Commission used the correct process under the Constitution to give acting Police Commissioner Gary Griffith his acting appointment, in two weeks’ time.
Justice Kangaloo set the dates for the hearing and determination of the lawsuit, brought by social activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj, during a virtual case management conference yesterday.
The oral submissions in the lawsuit are scheduled to be heard on October 11, with Justice Kangaloo expected to give her judgement three days later.
During the hearing, Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes, who is leading the legal team for the Office of the Attorney General indicated that the lawsuit should be heard and determined expeditiously as it has far-reaching implications.
He noted that the acting appointment of Deputy Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob, who was appointed to hold the post after Griffith was suspended by the Commission, earlier this month, comes to an end on October 15.
Griffith, also, sued the Commission over its decision to suspend him pending the outcome of an investigation into the issuing of firearm user’s licences (FULs).
Griffith and the Commission came to a settlement, last week, which saw the suspension being lifted and Griffith agreeing to remain on leave until October 31 or until former Appellate Judge Stanley John completes his investigation.
However, Griffith has not withdrawn the lawsuit, which is also before Justice Kangaloo, as the Commission is reportedly yet to comply with an essential element of the settlement.
During the hearing, Senior Counsel Anand Ramlogan, who is leading Maharaj’s legal team, suggested that the Commission should cease to be an interested party in the case following the resignations of all the Commission’s members including former chairman Bliss Seepersad, who tendered her resignation on Thursday.
“When you granted leave you granted leave to an inquorate Commission. Today it is not inquorate, it does not exist,” Ramlogan said.
Mendes suggested that based on the urgency of the case, the issue should be raised in Maharaj’s submissions and determined together with the substantive issue in the case.
“It is a waste of time…Let’s get on with the matter and stop all this grandstanding and politicking. The most important thing is how do we appoint a commissioner. This is a matter affecting the entire nation,” Mendes said.
Senior Counsel Russell Martineau, who represented the Commission, agreed with the suggestion.
He pointed out that the lawsuit is not a dispute between the parties but rather an interpretation case, which requires the assistance of all parties involved.
“If it is the Commission is non-existent, then why is he (Ramlogan) even bothering to write freedom of information requests to a non-existent Commission?” Martineau said.
Martineau also noted that when Justice Kangaloo granted permission for the Commission to be an interested party in the case, the Commission only had two members.
After hearing the submissions, Justice Kangaloo agreed to allow the Commission’s continued participation.
In the lawsuit, Maharaj is claiming that Griffith’s acting appointment was not properly done as Parliamentary approval, as with the appointment of a substantive commissioner, was required.
Even after Justice Kangaloo resolves the lawsuit, the Commission is still currently barred from completing the recruitment process for the next police commissioner as former head of the Police Social and Welfare Association acting Senior Supt Anand Ramesar has obtained an injunction against it.
Ramesar’s substantive lawsuit reportedly stems from the Commission’s decision not to select him to join other candidates in the interview stage of the recruitment process.
The injunction will stay in place until October 24, when High Court Judge Joan Charles, who has been assigned to preside over Ramesar’s substantive lawsuit, is expected to host a hearing of the case.
At that time, Justice Charles would decide whether to discharge the injunction or extend it pending her final determination of the case.
Maharaj is also being represented by Renuka Rambhajan, Jayanti Lutchmedial, Jared Jagroo, Natasha Bisram, and Vishaal Siewsaran.
Rishi Dass is appearing alongside Mendes for the AG’s Office, while Larry Lalla is representing Griffith.