PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago, February 25, 2019 (CMC) – A High Court judge has threatened to jail Police Commissioner, Gary Griffith, for contempt of court, if he fails to carry out a High Court order, issued last October, within 14 days.
“Ultimately, it would serve this court no pleasure in sending the commissioner to that other place called ‘GG’, which is Golden Grove. Please ensure this does not unfold,” Justice Frank Seepersad said, as he heard the motion, filed by a former police officer, who was asked to repay the State an estimated TT$436,539.10.
Griffith has been told he needs to reclassify the leave of Corporal, Ashram Pariagsingh, a 37-year veteran, who on May 8, 2012, fell and injured himself while at a police station.
In his lawsuit, the policeman claimed that the area became slippery, because of a leaking pipe and the fall caused him serious back injuries. He also challenged the decision of the then-police commissioner to reclassify his sick leave, without any explanation.
According to his lawsuit, the Human Resources Department of the Police Service classified his sick leave as injury leave, with pay. Three years later, acting Commissioner, Stephen Williams, reversed this and classified Pariagsingh’s leave as extended sick leave with no pay. He also told Pariagsingh he would have to repay all his salaries and benefits, from May 2012-March 2016.
Last October, Justice Seepersad ruled in favour of Pariagsingh, ordering that he not be made to pay back the monies.
The judge’s order has not been complied with, and Pariagsingh’s attorneys, led by former attorney general, Senior Counsel, Anand Ramlogan, filed an application to have the court’s order enforced within 14 days and to find the commissioner in contempt.
Justice Seepersad urged attorneys for the commissioner, including the director-legal at the police service, Christian Chandler, to ensure his order is complied with.
In granting Pariagsingh’s attorneys permission to file their applications, Justice Seepersad said it was evidenct that the Office of the Commissioner was “critical in curtailing the cancer of criminality which confronts all citizens”.
“The hands-on approach and operational involvement of the commissioner in furtherance of a focused and resolute mandate to curb the unacceptable escalation of crime, cannot go un-applauded. The office however, carries with it extensive administrative functions, which must also be discharged with adeptness, adroitness, alacrity and aplomb.
“While it is readily acknowledged that the demands of the office are significant, there can be no justification for the failure to comply with mandatory orders of the court,” the judge said, adding “consequently, having regard to the antecedent circumstances, which prevailed in this case and having noted the date of the judgment issued, this court, in the discharge of its mandate to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law, hereby orders and directs that the commissioner of police shall comply with the judgment issued, and must reclassify the claimant’s leave, within 14 days of today’s date”.
“This mandatory order shall be endorsed with a penal notice, so as to convey, with absolute clarity, the court’s intent to treat with the issue of contempt, should there be continued noncompliance,” Justice Seepersad ruled.