The attempts of government to remove two high-ranking public officials from office-former chief justice Sat Sharma and former Speaker of the House Occah Seapaul-both of whom chose not to step down amidst public condemnation, need to be considered in light of the unknown future the chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC) Nizam Mohammed now faces. Mohammed, like his two embattled predecessors of public office (Sharma and Seapaul), has stuck to his guns despite growing views that his conduct has tarnished what Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar referred to as "the trust that is reposed in him."
Both Persad-Bissessar and Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley (among others) have categorically criticised Mohammed's allegations of discrimination and the need for ethnic balance within the T&T Police Service. Upon close examination, issues surrounding resignation, constitutional amendments, suspensions, impeachment trials as well as the notion of "public opinion," all appear to comprise government's traditional way of dealing with the issue of revoking (or attempting to revoke) the appointments of key state officials.
In 2006, then chief justice Sat Sharma was relieved of his duties by President George Maxwell Richards at a time when the police were trying to execute a warrant on a charge that he (Sharma) had attempted to pervert the course of public justice by trying to influence Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls to rule in favour of former prime minister Basdeo Panday in his integrity trial. Sharma was recalled to duty on March 26, 2007, but because of the apparent "stain," these allegations had cast on the judiciary, he was later suspended by President Richards on June 13, 2007, after then prime minister Patrick Manning indicated that he had recommended the appointment of a three-member tribunal to determine whether Sharma should be impeached. The 58-page report on the Lord Mustill tribunal found that there was insufficient evidence to impeach Sharma.
In 1995, the government of the day sought to have Seapaul removed as Speaker of the House because questions arising out of her involvement in a court matter in which she was the complainant, where the magistrate dismissed charges she had brought against auto repairman and business partner, Victor Jattan. She was asked to demit office because of the negative public perception held both of her image and office as a result of the court matter but had refused to do so and as such, the Government filed a no-confidence motion in Parliament against her. Seapaul was then accused of acting in her own self-interest when she omitted a section of a constitutional amendment which was brought before Parliament to have her vacate office forthwith. She was subsequently placed under house arrest-a move which invoked a State of Emergency-in order to facilitate the passage of the amendment, effectively ousting her as Speaker.
In Mohammed's own words...
A column written by Mohammed and dated July 9, 1995, in which he opined on the situation involving the removal of then House Speaker Occah Seapaul from office, cited the danger in acting solely on the popular views of the public.
He said of the issue:
"One cannot simply ask a high official to vacate public office because of public perception which may be uninformed or inaccurate... People's reputations are too sacred to be destroyed by the fickle wind of public opinion," he said. "Whatever the perception, Government and Parliament should act based on facts." Whether these scenarios examined bear any striking similarities to any determination regarding the future of the Police Service Commission chairman, was a matter which at this point remained-as Persad-Bissessar said-entirely in the hands of President Richards.