The Police Commissioner cannot institute disciplinary or criminal charges against a retired police superintendent on allegations of indecent assault made by a woman police constable.
Justice Kevin Ramcharan made the order in a judgment delivered by e-mail in keeping with practice directions for court proceedings during the covid19 restrictions.
Ramcharan said while the commissioner did not act unreasonably by starting the investigation against retired Supt Celestine Phillip, the failure to complete the investigation within a reasonable time and come to a decision was unlawful.
Phillip was a police officer from May 1, 1975. He retired on April 6, 2016.
He said he was told in January 2012, he was transferred from the Central Division to the Human Resource branch, and while on assignment there, he was served a notice of suspension on March 15, 2012. It claimed allegations of assault were made against him but did not give details.
In his claim, he said his prospects for promotion were also stymied by the investigation which is still not yet completed. He also asked for his promotion retroactively to the rank of senior superintendent, effective May 22, 2014, and payment of all accrued arrears of salary and benefits.
According to Phillip’s claim, he was successful in the police promotion examination for the higher rank in 2014, but his promotion was being withheld pending the outcome of allegations against him.
In 2015, Phillip wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions seeking his intervention, because, he said, he would not enjoy the benefits of his 37 years’ service or be eligible for any promotion. His suspension was lifted on April 5, 2016, one day before he exited the service on mandatory retirement.
Phillip also said that to date, he has not received particulars of the allegations against him nor the opportunity to respond to them. He said although no disciplinary proceedings have started, it appeared the investigation was open and ongoing.
He said because of this, he has been deprived of opportunities for advancement, remuneration and his reputation has been tarnished by the unresolved, spurious allegations against him. Phillip also said he was having trouble finding work after his retirement because of this.
During the matter, the police commissioner did not give any reason for the delay in the investigation.
In his decision, the judge said the commissioner was in breach of the Police Service Regulations and held that the probe should have been completed in 12 months of Phillip’s suspension.
Ramcharan also said Phillip should have been promoted to the rank of senior superintendent and ordered the commissioner to compensate him for loss and damage.
Phillip was represented by attorneys Michael Rooplal and Vishan Girwar.
In response to the court’s decision, Phillip said he was happy to finally have the investigation against him brought to an end, some four years after he had retired.
He was also grateful to the court for recognising that he ought to have been promoted, saying he believed he could have moved even further up the ranks in the police service.
The Commissioner of Police was represented by attorneys Karlene Seenath and Amrita Ramsook.