Cop to challenge change of his sick leave to no pay

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Justice Devindra Rampersad

A police sergeant with cancer who had his sick leave changed after eight years has got the nod from a High Court judge to pursue his judicial review claim against the Police Commissioner.

Sgt Fiaaz Ali, of Barrackpore, received permission from Justice Devindra Rampersad to apply for judicial review in a claim which seeks to have the commissioner’s decision quashed and declared unreasonable, irrational and unfair.

Ali will also ask the court to order the commissioner to reclassify his sick leave for April 2014-August 2018 to full-pay sick leave, and a declaration that he is not liable to repay any salary for that period.

Ali was given his full salary during four years of surgery and chemotherapy.

His lawsuit contends that from the beginning of April 2014, he completed and submitted his sick-leave applications with medical certificates. He said because he received his full pay, this suggested the sick-leave applications were approved by the commissioner as “sick leave with full pay.”

After his treatment, which was delayed because his radiation therapy damaged his skin and muscle tissue, Ali eventually returned to duty in August 2018.

In July 2022, he was told his sick leave had been classified as absence from duty without pay, extended sick leave with pay and half-pay, and extension of sick leave without pay.

“The natural consequence of the classifications contained in the respondent’s letter dated

July 19, 2022, is that the applicant would owe a debt to the respondent, in the value of the surplus in the salary paid to him during his periods of sick leave.”

Ali wrote to the commissioner asking for his leave to be reclassified and was told his concerns were noted, but the Commissioner of Police “is unable to accede to (his) request to re-classify the extended sick leave.”

His lawyers wrote to the commissioner in May and were told the classification was made in accordance with the “guidelines for the administration of devolved functions” and Ali had the choice to offset his leave with whatever outstanding vacation leave he had before he went on leave.

The lawsuit also complains about the eight-year delay in classifying his sick leave.

The matter comes up for hearing on September 8.

Ali is represented by attorneys Michael Rooplal, Kristy Mohan and Jamie Amanda Maharaj.