The news that embattled Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Claudius Coutain has been reinstated as a member of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) despite any conclusion to his court matters have started a number of tongues wagging in the country.
The Acting Commissioner of Police, Winston James did the reinstatement based on instructions from the Public Service Commission (PSC) that is headed by attorney-at-law, Derek Sylvester.
There is a feeling in some quarters, whether rightly or wrongly that the decision could have been influenced by political considerations given the widespread perception and belief in some quarters that ASP Coutain is a strong supporter of a particular political party in Grenada.
THE NEW TODAY understands that the latest PSC instructions on ASP Coutain is not the first time that the body has taken a decision to re-instate a public officer who has been on suspension and awaiting the final outcome of the case in the law courts.
One of the considerations that might influence such a decision is the long delay in the pending court matter and a PSC might conclude that the person received sufficient punishment already and it was now better for both sides to part company.
This surely cannot be the case with ASP Coutain because his matter is not even two years old as yet.
The public has a right to know what were the circumstances under which the PSC took the decision to order the re-instatement of this senior police officer with the case still pending in the court.
THE NEW TODAY would think that the head of the body, Mr. Derek Sylvester has a responsibility to explain to the public who might be ignorant about the circumstances in which the commission arrived at its decision given the sensitive nature of the case and the parties involved.
Someone with a justifiable interest in the matter can move the high court to review the decision taken by the PSC on ASP Coutain’s re-instatement.
There might be good enough reasons for a high court judge on review of the decision to rule that the PSC’s decision was unlawful and null and void.
It should be noted that whenever a public officer is taken to court for acts of alleged transgression, he/she is suspended and placed on half month’s pay pending the outcome of the case.
The issue that now arises is that the PSC decision will result in the State having to pay back to ASP Coutain that half portion of his money that was withdrawn when the decision was taken to suspend him from duties.
If ASP Coutain were to lose the court case will the State now call on him to pay back the other half of the salaries given to him as a result of this decision taken by the PSC to re-instate him to the force?
This question is important whether or not the PSC issues instructions to the senior police officer to proceed on holiday or pre-retirement leave.
THE NEW TODAY is getting the feeling that the PSC directive has been met with mixed reaction from within RGPF.
A lot of strange things have happened within the Police Force since the change of government in February 2013 – the re-instatement of ex-Senator, Carl Caton to RGPF after serving as a member of the NNP side in the Upper House, and a few others who were dismissed for alleged criminal offences.
The Caton situation was all the more offensive because he contested the 2008 general elections in the St. Patrick East seat against former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.
The PSC decision on ASP Coutain brings to mind another high profile case involving Sergeant of Police, Adrian Peters who was charged by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) with fraud in connection with monies paid to him while on so-called study leave.
THE NEW TODAY maintains the position that Sgt. Peters was charged as part of a vendetta by Acting Commissioner James who was an active participant in taking him back into the force despite a legal opinion to the contrary from State-paid lawyers.
It was only when the acting COP and Sgt. Peters fell out that the top man in the force decided to try and crush him in the law courts.
It appears that different laws apply to ASP Coutain and Sgt. Peters.
Former Prime Minister Thomas has often called for respect to be shown for the true independence of institutions like the PSC and the Integrity Commission.
If a person is a member of the PSC or Integrity Commission and is making approaches to the powers-that-be for concession on the importation of a vehicle when he/she is not entitled to it by law then it raises questions about the integrity of the office.
There are many persons holding high office in this country who are driven by money and can easily compromise their independence and the offices they hold in order to gain unfair advantages due to their lust for personal aggrandisement at the hands of the political directorate.