COMMISSIONER of Police Gary Griffith appeared before a judge in the Port of Spain High Court on Tuesday in response to a subpoena issued for him to attend on a contempt of court application brought by a police officer seeking promotion.
In December 2018, Justice Ricky Rahim ruled in favour of police prosecutor PC Ramdath Phillip for promotion and ordered the Police Promotion Advisory Board (PPAB) to immediately consider him for promotion as a result of an unfair decision to deny him the maximum 35 points for police who possess a degree.
This was not done and Phillip filed the contempt proceedings, which came up before Rahim on Tuesday.
The judge was told that Phillip and the commissioner, after talking in the foyer of the court, wanted to arrive at an amicable resolution and were looking at “fashioning a remedy to meet the justice of the case,” in the form of a draft order for the court to sign off on.
Phillip’s attorney Anand Ramlogan, SC, said the order will be retroactive and will be specific to his client, as the commissioner had expressed concern that it may lead to the opening of a floodgate.
However, Ramlogan told the judge that checks have been made and there was no other police officer in similar circumstances, as there were other officers who got their law degrees after Phillip, but had been given their full points and promoted ahead of him.
“He is the last of the Mohicans,” Ramlogan said. “There can be no precedent,” he added.
However, the commissioner’s attorney Lester Chariah said there were other concerns which involved the police service regulations relating to the advisory board and promotions.
Chariah suggested Phillip write to the National Security Minister on the issue, since the advisory board was not operating, as it did not have the full complement of officials.
“For there to be compliance (with the court’s order), it is not up to the commissioner. The body is not properly constituted,” Chariah told the judge, adding that the commissioner wanted to ensure the promotions process was properly followed.
However, Ramlogan said the case has gone past regulations, since the court had made an order, adding that the advisory board has not been in existence since 2010, creating a stagnation in the careers in the service.
Rahim also asked on what authority had promotions been made since then, if the board has not been functioning.
He gave both sides until next week Thursday, when they will return to court.
Phillip, who is assigned to the Southern Division, joined the service on February 3, 2003. In 2007, he completed his LLB degree at the University of London. He should therefore have been exempted from sititing any qualifying examination for promotion within the Second Division, all the way up to the rank of inspector.
This policy was promulgated by the commissioner in a departmental order in 2007, which said officers who get an LLB degree from an institution recognised by the Accreditation Council of TT would be exempted from any further promotion examination and be awarded the maximum 35 points in the category of examination.
By letter dated May 19, 2014, Phillip was told he would not be granted the exemption because he had not applied before the deadline of July 29, 2010.
Phillip objected and complained to the commissioner that he had not been aware of this deadline.
He said he was being treated unfairly owing to the completion of the degree, and would have applied for the exemption before 2010, had he known there was a deadline.
Over the years, Phillip wrote several letters complaining about his unfair treatment and met with several senior people in police administration without his problem being resolved.
In addition to mandating the PPAB to immediately award Phillip the maximum 35 points and consider him for promotion, Rahim also found in December that Phillip was a victim of unfair treatment.