Businessman challenges 19-year wait for firearm licence

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A La Romaine businessman has received leave to pursue a judicial-review claim against the Police Commissioner for failing to make a decision on his application for a firearm user’s licence (FUL).

Justice Robin Mohammed granted permission to the businessman, who wants the court to compel the commissioner to decide on his application

The matter comes up for hearing on June 24.

The businessman has asked for his name not to be published in fear of being targeted by criminal elements.

He is represented by attorneys Dinesh Rambally, Kiel Taklalsingh, Stefan Ramkissoon, and Rhea Khan.

In his leave application, the businessman said he was a private citizen, businessman, and hunter.

He said he first applied for an FUL in 2003 and his application was investigated and recommended by the superintendent of the San Fernando police station in 2004.

In 2007, he was told to resubmit an application, which he did. The next year, he was asked if he was still interested in getting an FUL and was told to submit a certificate of character; a fitness certificate; a letter of no objection from his spouse; and hunting permit receipts.

Another investigation was done and a recommendation was made in 2008.

In 2015, he was told to resubmit another application because seven years had passed. A third investigation was done and a recommendation was again made.

He said he was concerned about the passage of time since his first application, and made several visits to the firearms section of the police service to find out its status, but was told each time, it was awaiting the approval of the commissioner.

In 2020, he wrote to the commissioner and was told the last recommendation was not made by the superintendent, but by the sergeant at the station. He was told to write again to the commissioner asking for his application to be reviewed.

In December 2020, he was told to return to the station for a review of his application, which was returned, and he was asked to submit 12 documents, which he did in January 2021.

Since then he has heard nothing, and said he was “increasingly frustrated” with the delay in either denying or approving his application.

In February, he said he was told an audit of the police firearms section was ging on and his application could not be processed.

The lawsuit said, “This letter did not indicate when I could expect a decision in relation to my application nor did it advise how long the purported audit was expected to last. This is unsatisfactory.

“Insofar as the intended defendant is purporting to conduct an audit into the firearms unit, the intended claimant will contend that an ‘audit’ is not a lawful and/or intra vires reason to stop the statutory process of considering applications for firearm licences.

“Further, and/or in the alternative, if an ‘audit’ is required, same could only delay the intended claimant’s application for a reasonable period of time.

“The intended claimant’s application has been grossly delayed and the Intended Defendant has offered no information on when the said process would be completed or when his application would be processed.”

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