Court halts assistant police commissioners selection process

A judge has provisionally granted an injunction, halting the selection process for Assistant Commissioners of Police.

A judge has provisionally granted an injunction, halting the selection process for Assistant Commissioners of Police.

The decree was issued at around midnight last night, on an application filed shortly before by Superintendent Carmelo Bartolo against the minister for the interior and national security and the commissioner of Police.

The application for the injunction, signed by lawyers Jason Azzopardi, Kris Busietta and Julian Farrugia, said Bartolo's rights to a fair hearing and equality of arms were being prejudiced by the selection process before the Public Service Commission. This process was being conducted in an irregular fashion, he said, requiring the filing of the injunction to safeguard his rights.

Bartolo had applied for the AC post following a call issued in October 2016. In January this year, the results of the selection board, composed of Commissioner of Police Lawrence Cutajar, Josie Brincat and Joseph Mangani, concluded the selection procedure.

Bartolo had objected to the result in a petition filed before the PSC in late January. In last night's application, Bartolo claims to have encountered several obstacles and procedural irregularities which, he claims, breached his right to a fair hearing and equality of arms.

The application for the injunction states that Bartolo had been emailed in February and asked to provide a list of witnesses that he wanted to summon before the board, giving him two days to do so. Bartolo had, he says, and had been informed in writing that a sitting would be held for the witnesses to be heard.

However, in the subsequent two sittings, none of the witnesses were heard, the Selection Board "expressly refused" to allow him to produce the witnesses the board itself had requested, the court document alleges.

Neither had he been given the opportunity to see the Selection Board's reasons for turning down his application,he said. "The Commission acted in a manner entirely devoid of equity, justice, impartiality, competence and transparency."

In a sitting held in March, the PSC Chairman had described the Selection Board as an extension of the hand of the Commission, he claims adding that a letter sent by the PSC, dated 10 March had asked the minister to "approve a deviation from the semi-standard criteria due to the sensitive nature of this call."

In an email he received at 2:22pm on 5th May, Bartolo was informed that his petition had been declined. 

Just before midnight last night, Judge Joseph R. Micallef decreed that there appeared to be a prima facie case for the injunction and upheld the application.

A similar injunction has been filed last January with respect to the selection process for Deputy Commissioner of Police