Friday, February 8, 2013

Letter from New York: Max should apologise to Nizam

by Vishnu Bisram
When President Max Richards revoked Nizam Mohammed’s appointment over a year ago as head of the Police Service Commission (PSC), it was done without the gentleman being given a hearing. He was denied natural justice to a fair hearing. 

The country was not told what law he broke. An accusation
was made against him and his appointment was revoked. There was no due
process and the right to face his accusers or give his side of the
conflict (that led to his dismissal) to the President who was supposed
to be an impartial adjudicator. 

There was an abuse of process. The president did not convene a tribunal to investigate the complaint against Nizam as the law required. The President simply acted out of public and governmental pressure. 

Such an action is no different from an accused being rendered guilty without a trial or because of public opinion. So the judge’s ruling this week overturning Nizam’s dismissal from his Chairman post is a correct one in law. 

Any objective constitutional expert would agree with the ruling. Unfortunately, the judge’s ruling cannot be enforced and as such would have no effect on the appointment because someone else has replaced Nizam as Chair of the PSC.
On a related constitutional issue, when President Max fired Nizam, there were those who argued that the President’s decisions or actions cannot be challenged in court. 

That is malarkey and a foolish, narrow interpretation of any nation’s constitution that would be rejected in the U.S. If T&T President breaks the law, he can’t be challenged. Even the American President can be challenged in court and the American Supreme court did rule against the president on several occasions. A constitution has to be flexible to meet the changing times.
A NACTA opinion survey was conducted on the controversial comments made
by Nizam as well as the President’s response. A large majority disagreed with the President’s action to revoke Nizam, particularly without the procedure being followed to revoke an appointment.

Unfortunately, Nizam will not have proper justice as he cannot be restored to the post from which he was terminated. But some kind of consolation must be given to Nizam for the violation of his natural rights. At a minimum, he should be financially compensated as though he was still in the position. 

In America, that would have been the ruling and in fact the person would have been ordered restored to the post. At any rate, in T&T if the Judge had so instructed, all President Max would have had to do was to follow the proper procedure by giving Nizam due process, establishing a tribunal, etc. to conduct a trial and then revoke the appointment if the tribunal so recommends.
I should note that in another case, another judge ruled that due process rules were also not followed in the Panday prosecution (for failure to declare his bank account). As the judge rightly ruled, Panday was not given due process by the Integrity Commission. 

A tribunal was not established to judge him. Instead, he was deliberately
referred to the DPP Office for prosecution for political reasons. The
Judge correctly terminated the case against Panday and the DPP is
simply wasting funds on an appeal. 

The judge in the Nizam case may have been influenced by the Panday ruling of having the tribunal first give Nizam a hearing. The same precedent apparently was invoked in the Gladys Gafoor matter where the court recognized that the proper procedure was not followed and the establishment of a tribunal was a
necessary first step before removal from office from the integrity
commission. or criminal prosecution. 

In essence, the judge used the dismissal of the Panday charge as a precedence to on the Nizam and Gafoor matters. What the ruling suggests is that proper procedures in terminating people need to be followed.
Max committed a faux pas and should do the right thing by tendering an
apology to Nizam.

\Vishnu Bisram

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai