EVEN as Gary Griffith is reportedly insisting he will be reporting for duty on October 16, the judge hearing the interpretation summons, which questions the legality of his appointment as acting commissioner of police, has been told she must deliver her decision before then.
At a virtual case-management hearing on Friday, attorneys for the Attorney General advised Justice Nadia Kangaloo that the acting appointment of McDonald Jacob comes to an end on October 15.
Kangaloo said she will give her ruling on October 14 and gave the attorneys strict deadlines to file written submissions. She will entertain oral submissions on October 11.
Before the judge is an interpretation summons filed by social activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj. He wants the court to determine if the Police Service Commission (PSC) was required to send to the President a list 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.
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.
This position was adopted by the Attorney General who, in a notice on Wednesday, said to the court that all appointments, both for acting and substantive positions, should receive Parliamentary approval.
Mendes also warned against delaying the matter when Maharaj’s lead attorney Anand Ramlogan, SC, said he reserved the right to refer to anything necessary to provide “context” to the court.
Mendes and lead attorney for the PSC, Russell Martineau, SC, objected to this, asking the judge not to entertain irrelevant evidence.
Martineau’s objection again drew Ramlogan’s ire. On Monday, he questioned the attorney’s participation in the matter when the commission, at the time, was inquorate with only two members. Since then, those two – its chairman Bliss Seepersad and member Roger Kawalsingh – have resigned.
“Who is the ‘we,’ Mr Martineau is referring to? I object to his continued participation in this matter. You granted leave to the PSC. On the last occasions, it was inquorate. Today, it does not exist,” Ramlogan said, referring to section 122 of the Constitution which establishes the commission.
He maintained he had a duty to assist the court.
Mendes and Martineau insisted that the court not waste time with “grand-standing.”
“Let’s get on with the matter…No grandstanding, no politics. Let gets on with this matter which is of significant importance,” Mendes said, while Martineau accused Ramlogan of “hypocrisy.”
“I am begging, let’s proceed. Why doesn’t he want to hear from the PSC?”
Ramlogan also complained of not receiving the “courtesy copy” of Griffith’s lawsuit against the PSC’s notice of suspension on September 17, which has since been rescinded.
Griffith’s three-year term as commissioner came to an end on August 17. He was approved to act in the post but then suspended pending an investigation, initiated by the PSC, to look into allegations of corruption in the issuing of firearm user’s licences; and the police handling of an incident at sea involving Christian Chandler, head of the police legal unit.
Out-of-court discussions between Griffith and the PSC led to the lifting of the suspension and he had agreed to defer his return to work until October 31 or until the PSC’s investigation by retired judge Stanley John was completed.
The imbroglio surrounding Griffith’s suspension led to the collapse of the PSC over the last two weeks.
At Friday’s hearing, Mendes also referred to the State’s position in the interpretation summons as it relates to the procedure for both acting and substantive appointments to the post of top cop.
It is the State’s position that all appointments must go to the Parliament for approval.
Mendes said the interpretation was the correct one, but as a consequence “certain things will follow.”
Ramlogan said while the State’s notice did not mention a concession, he did have some concern with it which he will address in his submissions, particularly if the State was asking the court to invalidate two legal notices relating to the appointment of a commissioner.
The legal notices are: Legal Notice 2009, under which Jacob was appointed as acting CoP being a serving member of the police service, and Legal Notice 2021 – which widened the pool from which an acting commissioner could be appointed to include those whose contract came to an end as was the case with Griffith.
In his notice, Mendes said the Office of the AG will make submissions on the full consequence raised by Maharaj in his claim that the procedure laid out by section 123 of the Constitution applies to both acting and substantive appointments.
Section 123 gives the PSC the power to appoint people to hold or act in the office of the commissioner, make appointments, remove from office, monitor the officeholder, among other duties.
It also provides for the PSC to nominate people for appointment in accordance with the procedure prescribed by the President and requires the commission to submit to the president a list of names of those nominated for appointment. The President is to then issue a notification to the Parliament.
Mendes said the State will ask the court to determine if the 2009 Order for the selection of acting commissioner and deputy commissioner is void as well as if Section 4 of the 2021 Order should be construed as requiring the PSC to submit a list of nominees of acting appointment to the President “where it proposes that an acting appointment should be made.