A fireman who challenged the way Fire Service examinations are carried out has lost his appeal before the Privy Council.
In a six-page decision last week, Lords Kerr, Clarke, Wilson, Carnwath and Hughes ruled against Imtiaz Mohammed and ordered him to pay the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) costs.
Mohammed joined the Fire Service in August 1987. In 2006, he sought promotion to the rank of fire sub-officer and in December, wrote the practical examination set by the Fire Service Examination Board (FSEB), which is tasked with setting and marking such exams.
Members of the FSEB were previously appointed by the Minister of National Security but this changed in December 2007, after the London appellate court declared that under the Constitution it is the responsibility of the PSC, rather than the minister, to appoint members to the examination board.
Mohammed learned in July 2007 of the FSEB’s decision that he had failed the examination, months before he found out that the Public Service Examination Board (PSEB) had decided to adopt the results declared by the FSEB.
He filed a lawsuit seeking a declaration that the decision of the PSEB to adopt the exam results was unlawful, since the appointment of the FSEB members by the minister was deemed unconstitutional.
In February 2011, Justice Mira Dean-Armorer dismissed his claim and in November 2014, the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal. Mohammed’s attorneys, including Richard Clayton, QC, and Anand Ramlogan, SC, argued all results by the former FSEB should be void.
In the Privy Council ruling, Lord Wilson noted, “In the relatively small community of TT there is considerable sensitivity about the risk of political influence on the process of making appointments including promotion of officers in the public service.”
But, he said, there are constitutional provisions designed to buttress the independence of the process.
The law lords ruled that the process was fair and just, and hence Mohammed’s appeal was dismissed.