A social activist has brought an interpretation lawsuit over the decision of the Police Service Commission to give former Police Commissioner Gary Griffith an acting appointment after his three-year stint in the post ended last month.
In the lawsuit, filed last Friday, lawyers representing Ravi Balgobin Maharaj are claiming that the commission and by extension, the Office of the President, acted unconstitutionally when they certified Griffith’s acting appointment without following the process used to appoint a substantive commissioner.
According to Maharaj, Parliamentary approval was required when the commission recommended that Griffith be given an acting appointment after his term ended on August 17 , under Section 123(4) of the Constitution.
In his fixed date claim form, obtained by Guardian Media, Maharaj’s lawyers claim that his concerns over the legality of the acting appointment were compounded by the fact that Griffith was allowed to go on vacation leave shortly after.
“The Claimant does not know if Mr Griffith was allowed to proceed on vacation leave based on leave which was accumulated under the expired contract of employment or whether it is leave that was taken under a new contract of employment that pertains to his acting appointment,” Maharaj’s lawyers said.
However, they claimed that Griffith’s initial contract stated that all vacation leave shall be taken within the term of engagement.
Maharaj’s lawyers claimed that the issues in the lawsuit had to be determined by a court because of public concern based on the Commission’s silence on the issues.
“It has the potential to bring the office of the Commissioner of Police, Mr Griffith (who is but an innocent casualty in all of this because he is not responsible for his own appointment be it substantive or acting) and the Police Service Commission into disrepute,” they said.
Attached to Maharaj’s claim was a certificate of urgency seeking to justify the urgent hearing of the case.
“There is a rationale for subjecting an appointment to the highest office in the Police Service to the approval of the House of Representatives, which includes insulating the commission from political interference, be it direct or indirect, whilst providing for transparency and accountability in the process and public ventilation of any issues concerning the appointment,” they said.
“Therefore, the matter is one that requires an expeditious hearing and determination,” they added.
Through the lawsuit, Maharaj is seeking a determination of whether Parliamentary approval is required, as claimed by him, and a corresponding declaration that Griffith’s appointment was illegal without it.
Guardian Media understands that Maharaj’s lawsuit is scheduled to come up for hearing before High Court Judge Nadia Kangaloo tomorrow afternoon.
Maharaj is being represented by Anand Ramlogan, SC, Renuka Rambhajan, Jayanti Lutchmedial, Jared Jagroo, Natasha Bisram and Vishaal Siewsaran.