Written By George Barclay
JUSTICE William Ramlal yesterday granted $2,227,700 in damages to Justice Navindra Singh for false imprisonment he had suffered in 2006 while being a practicing lawyer.
Judge Ramlal granted the Order against Policeman Benjamin 11712; Police Sergeant James 12496 and the Attorney General with interest and costs.
The judge said he hopes that the authorities would see to it that the sum awarded comes from the pockets of the policemen who had body searched the lawyer, assaulted him and unlawfully detained him for four hours without authority. That, he said, would serve as a deterrent to others.
The No. 2 defendant had finally charged the lawyer with obstruction of traffic and threatening behaviour, charges which were dismissed after a full hearing by Chief Magistrate Sullivan.
Mr. Singh had caused the summons to be filed against the policemen for exemplary damages for assault in excess of $50,000, committed by the first named defendant on the 9th day of May 2006 at Georgetown;
Exemplary damages in excess of $100,000 for malicious prosecution, committed by the first and 2nd named defendants on the 9th May, 2006;
Exemplary damages in excess of $50,000 for malicious prosecution by the second named defendant on the 11th day of May 2006 at Georgetown.
At the trial of the policemen, Mr. Singh now a High Court Judge was represented by the firm of Kissoon and Kissoon.
Justice Ramlal noted that the patrol policemen had no authority to arrest the lawyer at gunpoint and expressed the hope that the authorities would ensure that the award would be taken from the pockets of the policemen responsible so this would serve as a deterrent to others.
According to Justice Ramlal, when Mr. Singh had enquired on what authority he was being arrested, the No. 2 defendant pointed a gun at him and said, “This is my authority.”
The lawyer drove to Brickdam Police Station where he was body searched and detained for four hours before being charged.
On the 9th of May 2006 the lawyer was stopped in front of the Supreme Court and he was subsequently charged with obstruction.
Mr. S. Kissoon of Kissoon & Kissoon noted that the police on patrol had no authority to arrest someone for an offence of obstruction.
He said that under the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act such offences are outside the category of arrested offences.
According to him, in addition to that all of the acts were carried out by a squad called the Special Firearm Squad whose duties were to search for illegal guns and drugs and not traffic offences.