A businessman from south Trinidad has been allowed to pursue a lawsuit against the Office of the Police Commissioner, over a 19-year delay in deciding on his firearm user’s license (FUL) application.
The man, whose name was withheld due to his attorneys’ fear of him being targeted by criminals, was granted leave to pursue his judicial review case by High Court Judge Robin Mohammed yesterday.
In his court filings, the man claimed that he first applied for a FUL in December 2003.
An officer from the San Fernando Police Station conducted an investigation and several months later, he was told that his application would be recommended by a Superintendent.
Three years later, he was asked to submit a certificate of character. He complied but only received a response the following year, when he was asked if he was still interested in pursuing the application and to resubmit a certificate of character, a fitness certificate, a letter from his spouse and his hunting permits.
He again complied and was the subject of a second investigation conducted by another officer. He was again told that his recommended application would be sent to the commissioner’s office for final approval.
In May 2015, he was contacted by another officer and told that due to the passage of time, he was required to resubmit the documents if he was still interested in the FUL. He complied and the officer conducted a third investigation and promised the recommendation.
Concerned by the lengthy delay and process, the man claimed he made several checks at the Firearms Section of the T&T Police Service (TTPS) and wrote to former police commissioner Gary Griffith.
In December 2020, he was contacted by a fourth investigator, who also requested the resubmission of the documents. The investigator promised that feedback would be forthcoming but he received none.
In the lawsuit, the man’s attorneys are claiming that the delay is unreasonable and unlawful.
“The intended defendant has failed to perform his statutory duty by failing to make a decision with respect to the intended claimant’s application for a FUL,” his attorney Rhea Khan said.
She also sought to pre-empt claims over the current suspension of the Firearms Unit due to an audit into allegations of corruption.
“If an audit is required, the same could only delay the intended claimant’s application for a reasonable period of time,” Khan said.
“The intended claimant’s application has been grossly delayed and the intended defendant has offered no information on when the said process would be completed or when his application would be processed,” she added.
The man is also being represented by Dinesh Rambally, Kiel Taklalsingh and Stefan Ramkissoon.
A case management conference in the case is scheduled for June 24.