Court: Unreasonable delay in FOIA compliance by top cop

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Social activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj

Political activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj has successfully challenged the failure by the Office of the Commissioner of Police to comply with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) over the past decade.

In an oral decision last week, Justice Nadia Kangaloo held that the continued failure by the commissioner to abide by sections 7, 8 and 9 of the FOIA was illegal, unlawful and in breach of statutory duty.

In his judicial review claim, Balgobin-Maharaj contended that under the FOIA, public authorities, including the police service, are required to publish statements annually. The information includes its powers, functions, documents in its possession that the public can apply for, documents relating to police procedures, and advice or recommendations given by any of its inter-departmental committees or entities within the police service’s control.

Maharaj filed the lawsuit after he made an application under the FOIA for information on the TTPS’s compliance with the legislation in June 2021.

He said he was concerned that compliance issues would affect citizens’ ability to use the legislation to access documents in the interest of ensuring transparency.

“My observation is that these obligations work in tandem with each other in order to facilitate the adequate disclosure of information in the possession of public authorities,” Maharaj said in his evidence.

In ruling in his favour, Kangaloo granted the declaration that there was an unreasonable delay by the commissioner to comply with the annual publication requirements.

Maharaj was represented by Anand Ramlogan, SC, Renuka Rambhajan, Jayanti Lutchmedial, Ganesh Saroop, Natasha Bisram, and Gary Ramkissoon.

The commissioner was represented by Leah Mendoza and Faith Walke.

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