Article 42 – LEGAL NOTICE 277 OF 2021
BY: Martin Anthony George & Co.
LEGAL NOTICE 277 OF 2021
THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE AND DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF POLICE (SELECTION PROCESS) (NO. 2) ORDER, 2021.
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE – THE MORE THEY REMAIN THE SAME.
This amendment comes as no surprise considering the effect of The Honourable Justice Nadia Kangaloo in her ruling in Maharaj v the Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago CV2021-03106 whereby she deemed the acting appointments of both DCP McDonald Jacob and Captain Gary Griffiths as illegal, null and void. In the said judgment she also indicated that the same procedure is to be followed for both substantive and acting appointments to the Office of Commissioner of Police and since the acting appointments of DCP Jacob and Captain Griffith did not follow same, they were deemed illegal, null and void.
Legal Notice 277 of 2021 seeks to clarify the next steps to rectify the debacle that has caused Trinidad and Tobago to go without a Commissioner of Police for the past months.
The said notice makes the process for both substantive appointments and acting appointments clear. Clause 3 gives specific guidelines to be followed in respect of the appointment of a substantive office holder, and reads as follows:
“(a) the Commission shall conduct a recruitment process, including inviting applications for the positions by advertising each vacancy–
(i) in at least two daily newspapers circulating in Trinidad and Tobago; and
(ii) on at least three days within a period of seven days;
(b) the Commission, from the applications received, shall select the most suitable candidates for the assessment process;
(c) the Commission shall ensure that the candidates referred to in paragraph (b) are subjected to security vetting and recent professional vetting;
(d) the Commission shall conduct the assessment referred to in paragraph (b), and shall have regard to–
(i) the qualifications and experience of the candidate;
(ii) a medical examination report; and
(iii) the Security and Professional Vetting Report;
(e) the Commission shall then take into account all information on the candidates and thereafter establish an Order of Merit List indicating the highest graded candidate, followed by the other candidates in descending order of merit; and
(f) the Commission shall select the highest graded candidate on the Order of Merit List and submit that candidate’s name to the President in accordance with the procedure set out in section 123 of the Constitution.
(2) Where, in relation to subclause (1)(f), the House of Representatives does not approve of the highest graded candidate on the Order of Merit List pursuant to section 123 of the Constitution, subsequent nominations in order of merit may be submitted to the House of Representatives from the Order of Merit List only in accordance with the procedure set out in the Constitution.”
While Clause 4 of the said Legal Notice states the following in relation to acting appointments:
“4. (1) Notwithstanding clause 3, the selection process for acting appointments to the office of Commissioner of Police shall be as provided in this clause.
(2) For the purposes of acting appointments to the office of Commissioner of Police, the Commission shall establish and maintain an Order of Merit List which shall list, in descending order of seniority, the officers who–
(a) are holding or acting in the office of Deputy Commissioner of Police or Assistant Commissioner of Police; and
(b) possess the qualifications and experience required for appointment to the office of Commissioner of Police.
(a) the Commissioner of Police is or is likely to be–
(i) absent from Trinidad and Tobago;
(ii) on vacation leave; or
(iii) unable by reason of illness or any other reason to perform the functions of the Commissioner of Police; or
(b) the office of the Commissioner of Police is or is likely to become vacant,
the Commission shall select the most senior officer on the Order of Merit List and submit that officer’s name to the President in accordance with the procedure set out in section 123 of the Constitution.
(4) Where, in relation to subclause (3), the House of Representatives does not approve of the most senior officer on the Order of Merit List pursuant to section 123 of the Constitution, subsequent nominations in order of merit may be submitted to the House of Representatives from the Order of Merit List only in accordance with the procedure set out in the Constitution.”
The effect of the Legal notice is to provide a clear way forward for the Police Service Commission to appoint someone to the Office of Commissioner of Police, whether in an acting role or substantively. With specific reference to the Merit List and the procedure to populate same, what is also noteworthy is Clause 4(2)(a) which now mandates that anyone appointed to act as the Commissioner of Police must be holding or acting in the office of Deputy Commissioner of Police or Assistant Commissioner of Police. The said legal notice also states the Police Service Commission is to establish Merit Lists for both acting and substantive appointments of which the nominees, based on the said merit list, would need the House of Representative’s approval before the Police Service Commission can appoint the said officer. So any which way you cut it, slice it or dice it, it comes back to Parliamentary approval being required every time you have to appoint a Commissioner of Police either in a substantive position or even in an Acting capacity. Additionally, it does not appear that this hastily drafted and crafted Legal Notice, addresses the issue of appointments to the Office of Deputy Commissioner of Police, whether in a substantive or acting capacity.
© 2020 MARTIN ANTHONY GEORGE & CO