POLICE Commissioner Gary Griffith cannot move to fire a police officer who is awaiting trial for murder as a High Court judge has granted an injunction preventing the top cop from doing so until the officer's judicial review claim is determined.
On Wednesday, at a virtual hearing, Justice Ricky Rahim ordered that the commissioner be restrained from firing PC Safraz Juman pursuant to regulation 32(1), or by retirement, of the police service regulations until the matter is dealt with by the court.
He said the court had to determine who would suffer hardship or be prejudiced if the court refused to grant the injunction. Rahim also said it was clear that the public interest would not be prejudiced by the prohibiting the commissioner from acting against Juman until his claim is determined.
Juman is one of six policemen who, on July 15, 2013, were committed to stand trial for the murders of Abigail Johnson, Alana Duncan and Kerron “Fingers” Eccles. The three were shot dead during an encounter with police at the corner of Poui and Gunness Trace in Barrackpore on July 22, 2011.
Juman was last assigned to the Southern Division CID’s Operations Unit and was suspended from duty in November 2011. On May 1, he received a letter from the commissioner, dated March 16, titled: Dismissal or Retirement of Safraz Juman from the TT Police Service.
According to the “somewhat lengthy letter,” Juman was told by the commissioner of his “contemplation to dismiss you or require you to retire” from the police service. Juman was instructed to submit a response on why he should not be dismissed or retired.
Juman’s attorneys Israel Khan, SC, and Ulric Skerritt filed a judicial review and constitutional claim on May 8, seeking to challenge the commissioner’s decision to fire him. They argued the decision would amount to an abuse of power, is unreasonable, irregular or an improper exercise of a discretion.
In relation to the purported decision to retire Juman in the alternative, the officer argued that it would be against the power of the commissioner. He also argued that the top cop took irrelevant factors into consideration in making the decision to either fire him or retire him.
At a recent media briefing, Griffith said he was seeking to clean up the police service and improve its image.
Tribunals are being put in place so hearings can start soon. In countering the application, the commissioner, who was represented by attorney Rishi Dass, argued there was no serious issue to be tried since the top cop had made no decision in relation to Juman.
Rahim, however, dismissed Juman’s constitutional claim saying he failed to articulate it and also threw out an argument that the commissioner was acting outside his powers. The judge will give his decision on the substantive claim in November.