High Court to rule on constitutional motion filed by former police commissioner

Former commissioner of police, Wendel Robinson
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By Shermain Bique-Charles

[email protected]

High Court Judge Annmarie Smith is expected to hand down her ruling next month on a constitutional motion filed against the Police Service Commission (PSC) by former commissioner of police, Wendel Robinson.

Robinson’s attorney Lawrence Daniels asked the court in November 2020 to enter judgement on his client’s behalf since the PSC filed no defence, nor did the PSC acknowledge service of the claim.

Counsel for the commission, Dr David Dorsett, argued that the constitutional portions of the claim be struck out because section 105 (1) of the Constitution confers no legal right to Robinson.

That law gives the PSC the authority to appoint persons above the rank of sergeant, including commissioner of police and also to remove persons and exercise disciplinary control.

However, Daniels argued that the PSC lawyers never filed a defence and, in any event, a proper claim is before the court and judgment should be entered for the claimant since no defence was filed after four calendar months

Counsel then argued that if section 105 (1) appoints a commissioner and can remove a commissioner, then it stands to reason that if the commission breached that provision of the Constitution in the manner in which Robinson was terminated, then he has the right under section 119 of the Constitution to seek relief, declaration and damages.

When the matter came up before the court again on Tuesday, the judge, after listening to submissions on both sides, reserved her judgment for March 15.

Robinson had filed a constitutional motion and also challenged the appointment of the current Commissioner of Police, Atlee Rodney, whose selection he said was null and void, or unconstitutional.

“Since the PSC terminated my service and removed me as commissioner of police, I decided to file for administrative orders under section 105 of the constitution,” he admitted.

Robinson is also claiming that the PSC acted in bad faith, breach of justice and improper purpose when they terminated his service as commissioner.

He recalled that he had appealed to the PSC’s board of appeal “and up ‘til now the matter has not been heard, but the PSC went ahead and terminated my services despite the fact that the matter was pending,” he said.

Furthermore, Robinson, who is also an attorney, contended that when the matter was filed in court, the PSC took four months before it acknowledged service and has not filed a defence.

“Therefore, my counsel asked for summary judgment because no defence was filed and they did not acknowledge service,” he explained.

Robinson’s attorney is also seeking rights with respect to pension, gratuity and accumulative vacation leave.

“Don’t forget, I would have served for 32 years and 10 months, and the PSC could have exercised its … to offer pension and that was not done. What they sought to do is to ask me to beg upon the leniency of the Governor General for pension. They have since changed the law. But I don’t think that I should have to beg for my pension and gratuity. That apart, the termination is bad and I will go to my grave with that,” Robinson declared.

Meanwhile, Dr Dorsett told Observer that Robinson cannot contend his dismissal under section 105 because that law gives exclusive rights to the PSC to appoint, disappoint and take disciplinary action against persons in the police force.

“We are saying there is absolutely no basis for his constitutional motion so that should be struck out,” Dr Dorsett explained.

According to him, if Robinson is challenging his removal as commissioner of police on the grounds of judicial review, the PSC will not stand in his way.

“As far as I know, that is a case of judicial review and not constitutional reform. We have made our applications and the judge will decide on March 15th,” he said.

Robinson was first suspended following allegations of serious misconduct in office and two years later was terminated because of what the PSC termed as “a fractious relationship with the minister”.

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