Cabinet has been ordered by a High Court judge to appoint members to the Protective Service Compensation Committee (PSCC) by September 15.
Justice Joan Charles made the order today and further ordered that the board treat with former CPL Fazal Ghany’s claim for compensation injuries sustained while on the job within two weeks of their appointment.
As she deemed Ghany’s constitutional claim for breach of his rights urgent to be heard during the court’s vacation period, Justice Charles said the PSCC was well aware of the March 2015 order of the Privy Council which remitted the officer’s claim for compensation to it.
“The court cannot look away to the fact that there was no compliance with the Privy Council’s order,” she said, as she held that the issues raised by Ghany were equal to contempt of court.
“There was a period of time when there was not board to determine the issue of compensation. Whether or not the State is awaiting on an opinion...There is a history and an order of the court that has to be complied with,” the judge said.
Justice Charles also added that the court had an obligation to uphold the rule of law and ensure that the administration of justice was not brought into disrepute. She will give her decision on Ghany’s substantive claim of breach of his constitutional rights on October 31 in the San Fernando High Court.
Justice Charles gave her order, along with directions for the filing of submissions, after attorney for the Attorney General, Michael Bullock, informed the court that Cabinet had taken a decision to appoint certain persons to the PSCC in December of last year, but was awaiting a legal opinion on its ability to revoke the appointments of two members - Cedric Neptune and Dr Shivananad Gopeesingh, both of whom were appointed on August 18, 2015 and whose tenure is expected to end in August 2018.
He said his instructions were that the issue on the composition of the members of the board should be resolved in one month when the appointments would be made. He also said he could not, at this time, give any concessions on Ghany’s claim of breaches of his constitutional rights.
Justice Charles, as she urged the attorneys for both sides to ‘meet on common ground’ as it related to some of the reliefs being sought by Ghany, reminded the parties that the longer the matter takes, if Ghany was successful on his client, the issue of damages and interest, which will have to be paid by taxpayers dollars, will arise.
Ghany filed a constitutional motion seeking relief from the court after the failure of the PSCC to consider the quantum of compensation to be awarded to him in compliance with a ruling of the Privy Council in March 2015, which corrected a flaw in the legislation which governed how officers in the protective services are compensated for personal injury suffered in the course of employment.
In its ruling, the Privy Council held that the Protective Services (Compensation) Act was flawed as it failed to provide a formula for the calculation of compensation to be awarded to officers who suffer personal injury other than those specified in the Workmen’s Compensation Act.
Ghany was denied compensation after he became paralysed resulting from a work-related accident in 2006 and his claim was remitted to the Compensation Committee for their reconsideration.
However, the previous board ceased to function effective June 2015.
Ghany, a former member of the Anti-Kidnapping Squad, sustained a fractured spinal disc after he slipped down a flight of stairs at the unit’s office in Couva. As a result of the accident, Ghany suffered 26 percent paralysis of his body, forcing him to retire from the Police Service medically unfit.