Fazal Ghany, a retired police officer, is not giving up his fight to get compensation over an injury he sustained while on duty.
Having gone to the Privy Council and gotten judgment on March 24, 2015, Ghany is now fighting to have the Compensation Committee appointed so he can go after his benefits.
The Privy Council referred Ghany’s case back to the Committee for consideration for compensation. But the thing is, no Committee has been appointed. So he returned to the court on Wednesday.
Ghany, who is being represented by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissesar SC, is also seeking compensation for the delay in having his claim assessed.
On Wednesday, the matter came before Justice Devindra Rampersad in the San Fernando High Court, seeking to have the matter heard during the vacation period as a matter of urgency.
However, the judge adjourned the matter to be heard on Thursday before Justice Joan Charles, at the Hall of Justice, Port-of-Spain.
Persad-Bissessar said 11 years ago Ghany made an application to the Compensation Committee after he fell and injured his back while on the job, but his application was rejected on the basis that his injury did not fall under the Act.
After his lawsuit was dismissed in the local courts, he appealed to the Privy Council which found his injury did fall within the Act and he was entitled to compensation.
The Privy Council, in 2015, remitted the application to the Committee for his compensation to be assessed. However, Persad-Bissessar said for the past two years no Committee has been in place.
Describing as gross negligence the State’s failure to appoint a Committee, she said over 14,000 members of the protective services, including prison, fire and police officers, can be affected. The State, through its attorney Anthony Bullock, has asked for three weeks to sort out the issue. Bullock told the judge that Cabinet had recommended the names of people to be appointed to the Committee, but there was a legal issue and the appointments were not done. However, Persad-Bissessar said the State has no defence.
She said the State’s failure to abide by judgment of the highest court of the land undermines the administration of justice and the rule of law. She also stated that any further delay would be an injustice not only the Ghany but other officers who have suffered injuries on the job. She said Ghany knew of at least five officers who were injured on the job but cannot receive any compensation.
In the claim, Ghany is contending that his constitutional rights were breached in that he has been denied his right to property, which is the compensation, and his right to access of the Compensation Committee and the rule of law.
He is asking the court to order the Cabinet to take steps to appoint the committee and is seeking compensation for a breach of his constitutional rights and an award of damages for the delay in assessing his compensation.
The appellant, Fazal Ghany, was a corporal in the police service of Trinidad and Tobago when he suffered an injury as a result of falling while descending a flight of stairs at his place of work on 1 December 2006.
As a result he suffered a fracture of the anterior superior iliac spine. Dr Stephen Ramroop, a specialist in orthopaedic surgery, examined the appellant on 20 August 2007 and concluded that he had a 26% permanent disability consequent on the injuries that he had sustained in the fall.
Corporal Ghany applied for compensation under the PSCA. The Committee decided that he had suffered injury while carrying out his duties, that the fall had been caused by the condition of the stairs that he had been descending and that the resulting level of disability was as assessed by Dr Ramroop.
It concluded, however, that it was not possible to award him compensation. This was because the Committee was of the view that the state’s liability to pay compensation arose only in accordance with the PSCA and Corporal Ghany’s injury did not qualify under that legislation.
Section 13(2) of the Act provides that the Committee shall make an order for the award of compensation in accordance with the Second Schedule. This provides that compensation for permanent partial disablement is to be awarded on the basis of the same percentages of an amount equal to three years gross salary.