Political activist loses appeal over Erla’s extension as CoP

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Political activist loses appeal over Erla’s extension as CoP

The appeal on the Government’s move to extend the term of Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher by a year before she attained retirement age last year has been dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

Appellate Judges Prakash Moosai, Mark Mohammed, and James Aboud this morning rejected the appeal that was brought by political and social activist Ravi Balgobin-Maharaj after his case was dismissed by High Court Judge Ricky Rahim in January.

Today’s ruling now clears the way for the Cabinet to decide whether to extend Harewood-Christopher’s term by another year before she celebrates her birthday, next Tuesday.

Balgbon-Maharaj challenged a decision taken by the Cabinet to extend Harewood-Christopher’s term by a year under Section 75 of the Police Service Act, before she reached retirement age on May 15, last year.

The legislation empowers the President to extend the term of a first division officer, who is due to retire if it is in the national interest to do so.

Police officers can receive two further one-year extensions based on annual performance reviews.

Maharaj’s legal team led by Senior Counsel Anand Ramlogan contended that the provision is inconsistent with Section 123 of the Constitution, which gives the PolSC the power to recommend the appointment or removal of the Police Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCPs) to be approved by the House of Representatives.

They pointed out that the constitutional process sought to ensure that there was no political interference.

In response to the case, lawyers representing the Cabinet relied on an affidavit from Director of Personnel Administration Corey Harrison, who serves as secretary for the  PolSC.

In the document, Harrison claimed that the PolSC was aware of Harewood-Christopher’s age and the possibility of her receiving an extension when she was first appointed in February, last year, after acting in the post previously. 

He also pointed out that similar extensions were afforded to former police commissioners James Philbert and McDonald Jacob.