President’s ruling overturned

George Maxwell Richards.
George Maxwell Richards.

PORT OF SPAIN – Days before President George Maxwell Richards demits office, a decision he made during his ten-year tenure has been overturned in the San Fernando High Court. Yesterday, Civil Court judge Judith Jones declared Richards’ 2011 decision to revoke the appointment of chairman of the Police Service Commission, Nizam Mohammed, was “null, void and of no effect.”

However, while Jones’ decision rescinds Richards’ revocation of Mohammed’s appointment, Mohammed, a senior attorney and former Speaker, will not be able to reassume his position at the commission since Prof Ramesh Deosaran now sits as chairman. But Mohammed does not want to return either.

“I cannot work with at least three of the present commissioners, whose treachery cannot be easily forgotten,” Mohammed said yesterday as he spoke with reporters following Jones’ ruling. Mohammed did not seek damages since he said it was not about money. “My main concern was to clear my name. I was fired for incompetence and irresponsibility when all I was trying to do was to be honest,” Mohammed said.

He admitted the damage had already been done to his reputation because of his dismissal. “In a brutal society as ours it is not easy to repair such damage,” he added. In April 2011, Mohammed was fired after he raised the issue of an ethnic imbalance in the Police Service and pledged, as chairman, to address the matter with the help of Parliament.

Ten days after his contentious statements, Richards removed him as commission chairman. Yesterday, Jones, presiding in the San Fernando Civil Court, ruled in favour of Mohammed, who was represented by attorneys Fyard Hosein, SC, and Ravi Mungalsingh.

Jones upheld the argument that Mohammed was not given a fair opportunity to “meet and treat with the allegations made against him and the conclusions drawn from these allegations.” The judge, in her 27-page ruling, said the circumstances under which Richards’ decision was reached, “when examined objectively, do not demonstrate fair play in action.” She described the situation as “unfortunate.” (Guardian)

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