A retired police superintendent who sued the then-Commissioner of Police over four years ago, has been awarded more than $200,000 in damages.
High Court Master Shurland Pierre awarded the money to Celestine Phillip, who was successful in his judicial review claim against the then-Commissioner.
Phillip contended that the Commissioner at the time failed to complete an investigation into allegations against him in a timely manner, resulting in his mandatory retirement and being denied promotion to the rank of Senior Superintendent.
An investigation was initiated after indecent assault allegations were made against Phillip by a woman police constable. As a result, Phillip was suspended on March 15, 2012, pending an investigation.
His suspension was lifted on April 5, 2016, to facilitate his mandatory retirement from the Police Service.
However, Phillip had successfully written the police promotion examination and got sufficient points to be placed second on an Order Merit List for elevation to the rank of senior superintendent.
But his promotion was withheld because of the pending investigation, and he subsequently retired.
Represented by attorneys Michael Rooplal, Jamie Amanda Maharaj and Vishan Girwar, Phillip was granted leave by Justice Kevin Ramcharan on November 7, 2018, to pursue judicial review proceedings.
Two years later, Justice Ramcharan found that the failure—and continued failure—of the Commissioner to make a decision within a reasonable time in the investigation into the allegations against Phillip, was unlawful.
In his judgment, the judge stated:
“…in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, the claimant ought to have been promoted to the rank of Senior Superintendent on the 22 05 14.”
Following the judge's ruling, the matter went before Master Pierre for an assessment of damages and was heard in May 2022.
On Tuesday (January 24, 2023), Master Pierre ordered the State to pay Phillip $125,000 in general damages, $70,000 for loss of salary, and $10,000 for nominal damages for loss of pension. The State also must pay Phillip’s legal costs.
The Police Commissioner was represented by attorneys Karlene Seenath and Amrita Ramsook.