Chief Justice Roxane George this afternoon dismissed a challenge to the promotions of a number of senior Police Officers to the rank of Assistant Commissioners, paving the way for the promotions to proceed.
The Court matter was filed by Senior Superintendent of Police, Calvin Brutus who complained to the Court that the Police Service Commission was wrong in its decision not to include him and Senior Superintendent Fazil Karimbaksh in the list of promotions.
Brutus’ case was filed even before the Police Service Commission had made any announcement about the promotions.
Through his Attorney, Pratesh Satram, Brutus wanted the court to overrule the Police Service Commission’s practice of prohibiting the promotion of ranks who have pending disciplinary matters.
But in her ruling, the Chief Justice pointed out that to overrule such a practice would be to usurp the functions of the Commission and would have far reaching consequences for other constitutional commissions.
“It cannot be for the court to usurp the power of the Commission and direct that the Commission appoints the applicants to the post recommended by the Commission (of Police). To do so would necessitate the court in engaging in a full investigation of all issues regarding all officers that may be affected. This is not the function of the court”, the Chief Justice said in her ruling.
All of the reliefs sought by Mr. Brutus were rejected.
The Chief Justice said the application exposed the deep-seated issues that exist in the hierarchy of the Police Force and they do not bode well for the image of the Force.
The Chief Justice pointed out that the Police Service Commission has the power to appoint officers to any office of the Force above the rank of Inspector and also has the power to exercise disciplinary control over such officers who hold such offices within the Force as provided by the Constitution.
“The Commission as an entity established by and subject to the constitution must endeavor to uphold article 142, thus I cannot agree with the submissions on behalf of the challenged officers that the Commission has no control over the conduct of the disciplinary proceedings that it delegated. It is ultimately answerable for the progress of any such proceedings and must guide their expeditious progress,” the Chief Justice pointed out.
She said the Commission as a matter of urgency must move with haste to address the disciplinary matters against the senior officers, so that they can clear their names or where necessary other actions can be taken against them.
It is unclear how soon these issues will be addressed.
Ranks are not obligated to be promoted.
In her ruling, the Chief Justice also said the Police Service Commission is not bound to accept the recommendation of the Commissioner of Police when considering promotions for senior ranks.
Further, she pointed out that there is no evidence that the Commissioner of Police, the Promotion Board, or the PSC held out any promise or promoted any policy that made it mandatory that it accepted the recommendation of the board through the Commissioner.
She said recommendations can be made for officers to be promoted but that does not mean they will be promoted.
“The applicants have no provided evidence to indicate that there is a settled practice that an officer will be promoted based on the fact that his or her name is on the recommended promotion list,” The Chief Justice ruled.
The Chief Justice also ruled that it was illegal for Mr. Brutus to sign and send letters to several senior officers informing them that they were under investigation after it was made known to him that his name was not on the promotion list, but those officers were being promoted.
On the contention by Brutus that the disciplinary matters are frivolous, the Chief Justice pointed out that it is not for the Court to determine what matters are frivolous. She said for the Court to do this it will be embarking on an exercise beyond its remit.
Moments after the ruling by the Chief Justice, the Police Service Commission through its Attorney Selwyn Pieters released the full list of promotions by the Commission.
Two weeks ago, President Irfaan Ali announced the suspension of members of the Police Service Commission owing to another matter engaging the Court. But Attorney Pieters has since written to the President informing him that his move to suspend the Commission members is ultra vires, unlawful and illegal.