Social activist challenges Griffith's acting appointment as CoP in court

Social activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj
Social activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj

EVEN as acting Police Commissioner Gary Griffith challenges the Police Service Commission (PSC) to suspend him from resuming duty, one citizen is challenging his acting appointment as top cop.

Attorneys for social activist Ravi Balgobin-Maharaj have filed an interpretation summons in the High Court questioning Griffith’s appointment.

The matter is expected to come up for hearing on Tuesday, before Justice Nadia Kangaloo.

In the claim, Balgobin-Maharaj’s attorneys set out the timeline of the top cop’s appointment as commissioner in 2018 up to when his contract ended on August 17.

It said there was no provision for renewal or acting appointment after the contract had expired.

The documents say Balgobin-Maharaj was concerned about the issue, especially when the PSC had failed to complete its assessment for a substantive appointment of police commissioner before Griffith’s contract came to an end.

“Mr Griffith’s contract having come to an end, he was appointed to act by the commission without reference to the need for parliamentary approval. The public has not been given any information about the duration of the acting appointment, far less the terms and conditions of same,” the claim said.

It added that even after Griffith was appointed to act, and then given vacation leave, the PSC still has not explained why he was given vacation leave when his contract had ended.

“From experience, it is either a public officer takes his leave before the contract has expired or, in exceptional cases, the accumulated leave is bought out. It is to be noted that Mr. Griffth’s contract of employment specifically provides that all vacation leave shall be taken within the term of engagement. It is therefore curious that the commission appears to have granted vacation leave outside the terms and conditions of the contract of employment,” the interpretation claim said.

Describing Griffith as an “innocent casualty in all of this,”  Balgobin-Maharaj’s claim said he was not responsible for his own appointment.

“In the circumstances, it is important that the court to ensure that the rule of law is upheld and that the commission complied with the law in making this acting appointment.”

It also said Balgobin-Maharaj wrote to the President expressing his concern that the procedure prescribed by the Constitution for making the acting appointment was not followed. He also asked if a list of nominees for the acting position was sent to her.

The claim said the legality of the method of conferring the acting appointment as top cop was a matter of concern and Balgobin-Maharaj’s legal action is challenging the procedure adopted by the PSC.

He wants the court to determine if the PSC was required to send a list to the President of nominees for the acting commissioner’s position; should it have gone to the House of Representatives for approval and should it have only been done after the Parliament approved Griffith’s nomination.

Balgobin-Maharaj also wants the court to make declarations based on the concerns he has raised and to declare that Griffith’s appointment to act as commissioner is illegal and unconstitutional based on the procedure to be adopted to appoint an acting top cop.

He is represented by a team of attorneys led by Anand Ramlogan,SC, which includes Renuka Rambhajan, Jayanti Lutchmedial, Jareed Jagroo, Natasha Bisram and Vishaal Siewsaran.

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