A female police officer found favour yesterday with the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which described a 47-year-old regulation, threatening dismissal of women who marry in the Police Service, as "a relic of a bygone age." Although the Law Lords found that the law was valid and consistent with the T&T Constitution, they hoped that something be done to remove that piece of legislation. According to Lord Rodger, "Like the Court of Appeal, the board cannot part with the case without expressing the hope that steps will soon be taken to remove Regulation 52 (of the Police Service Commission Regulations). Counsel for the State made the point that "there was no sign that they had actually been used in practice, or would be used in the future." Lord Rodger continued: "If that is really so, it is all the more remarkable that the State has defended them so tenaciously, right the way up through the courts to this board.
"The simple fact is that they are a relic of a bygone age. The board respectfully recommends that their continued inclusion in the relevant regulations should be reviewed." There are many women in the T&T Police Service who are married, either to policemen or men outside the service. There are more than 1,000 female police officers in the T&T Police Service. Josine Johnson had filed a constitutional motion against the Attorney General, challenging Regulation 52, because it discriminates unfairly against women in the Police Service. On April 11, 2006, Justice Carlton Best dismissed the motion. The Court of Appeal, comprising Justices Margot Warner, Wendell Kangaloo, and Allan Mendonca, dismissed Johnson's appeal in 2008. Johnson appealed to the Privy Council and the matter was heard before Lords Rodger, Walker, Collins, Kerr and Lady Hale on October 20.
She was represented by Sir Fenton Ramsahoye, SC, Allan Newman, QC, and Anand Ramlogan, while Peter Knox, QC and John Almeida, appeared for the AG. In her affidavit before the court, Johnson, a divorcee with a grown son, wrote: "I am presently involved in a stable, serious relationship. I have been considering the question of marriage, but I am deterred by the fact that if I did, in fact, remarry, I would be at great disadvantage because of Regulation 52. "I would very much like to remarry, but do not wish to be liable to, or in jeopardy because of Regulation 52. "I do not wish to create an additional possible ground of termination by virtue of marriage. I am a family-oriented woman and would want to devote time to my family obligations. "I have, thus far, chosen to remain unmarried or divorced, because I do not wish to subject to the possibility of an additional ground of termination which does not apply to unmarried women police officers."
Lord Rodger, in his judgment, said there was no doubt that the regulation was discriminatory. He said the regulation was, indeed, typical of measures used to discriminate against married women. Johnson had argued that there was discrimination by reason of sex, effecting her right to equality before the law. But the Law Lords did not find favour with the argument. They said the regulation had been in existence since 1962, and was deemed to be validly-made and had full force even before the Republican Constitution in 1976. The Lords said the regulation was never challenged under the 1962 constitution. Yuclan Balwant, a public health inspector, employed with San Fernando City Corporation, also challenged Regulation 58 of the Statutory Authorities Service Commission (SASC), on the same ground of fear of getting married. The Privy Council's judgment yesterday also affected her.