Political activist to appeal dismissal of lawsuit over government’s move to extend term of the CoP

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Political activist to appeal dismissal of lawsuit over government’s move to extend term of the CoP

Political and social activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj is not giving up.

He has signalled his intention to challenge the dismissal of his lawsuit over the Government’s move to extend the term of Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher by a year before she attained retirement age last year.

On Tuesday, 16 January, High Court Judge Ricky Rahim dismissed Maharaj’s case against the Cabinet, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Police Service Commission (PolSC).

However, Maharaj issued a statement over his plan to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

He said, “I have instructed my lawyers to appeal this judgment all the way to the Privy Council because I believe her appointment is illegal and unconstitutional.”

“Having reached the retirement age, the government should have simply let her go home in peace instead of appointing her to the highest office in law enforcement where she could hardly compensate for an incompetent Minister of National Security,” he added.

He also called on Harewood-Christopher to resign. “I would personally join the other citizens to build a church for her so that she can pray for the help that this nation needs to rescue us from the crisis of incompetence that has engulfed us,” he said.

In the lawsuit, 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, and the Police Commissioner to extend the term of second division officers.

Maharaj’s legal team 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.

In determining the case, Justice Rahim ruled that the extension was not unconstitutional as contended.

He stated that there was a major difference in appointing a commissioner and extending a commissioner’s term as he noted that Harewood-Christopher was the incumbent at the time she received the extension.

“It follows therefore that the nature of the power is that of the extension of service of a sitting CoP and is not the appointment of a new CoP,” he said.

“Secondly, the extent of the exercise of the power itself does not reside solely with the political directorate as it is subject to Presidential discretion,” he added.