Balgobin-Maharaj loses challenge over Erla’s extension as top cop

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Balgobin-Maharaj loses challenge over Erla’s extension as top cop

A lawsuit by political activist Ravi Balgobin-Maharaj, which challenged Cabinet’s decision to extend the term of Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher by one year, has been dismissed by a high court judge.

In his 56-page ruling, Justice Ricky Rahim dismissed the matter today, (January 16, 2024) and ordered that Balgobin-Maharaj pay the defendants and the interested party costs to be assessed by a registrar.

Balgobin-Maharaj contended that the appointment process by the independent body, the Police Service Commission (PSC), and the Parliament was not in keeping with relevant provisions of the Constitution under section 123.

He claimed that the Cabinet sidestepped that process (thereby infringing the doctrine of the separation of powers) and extended the term after her date of retirement.

Harewood-Christopher turned 60 on May 15, 2023, and the extension was from that same date to May 14, this year.

Justice Rahim ruled that an act of Parliament conferred the power to extend the CoP’s term in a package of legislation comprising the 2006 Constitution Amendment, including the amendment to the Police Service Act.

He added that Parliament’s decision to leave the prescription of the term of office and any extensions of the CoP’s office to the executive was a deliberate constitutional choice.

The court also found that the power to extend the CoP’s service does not infringe on the constitutional function of the PSC to appoint, remove and discipline the CoP.