A businessman from Maraval has been given the green light to pursue a lawsuit over a move by the T&T Police Service (TTPS) to seize all three of his licensed firearms, after one was stolen by a relative who used it to commit suicide.
On Thursday, High Court Judge Devindra Rampersad granted the man, whose name was withheld based on security concerns due to the nature of his case, leave to pursue his judicial review against the Commissioner of Police.
According to his court filings, obtained by Guardian Media, the man, who owns a contracting company, was first granted a Firearms User’s License (FUL) for a semi-automatic pistol in 2001.
His FUL was subsequently varied to allow him to possess another pistol and a 12-gauge shotgun.
On August 30 last year, the man took one of his firearms with him when he and his family went to spend time at their vacation home Down the Islands.
The man reportedly secured the pistol in a locked safe box but one of his relatives managed to break into it and use the gun to commit suicide.
The gun was seized by investigators from the Carenage Police Station, as part of their probe into the suicide. Investigators also took possession of his FUL, as they claimed that they needed to verify that the gun was covered under it.
Although they promised to return the FUL within one week, it was not.
The officers also seized the man’s other licensed firearms and ammunition that were stored at his home, as they claimed he could not remain in possession of them while they still had his FUL.
After the FUL and the firearms not used in the suicide were not returned, the man’s lawyers sent legal correspondence over the delay.
The TTPS’ Legal Unit indicated that the investigation was still ongoing and that the firearms and FUL could not be returned until it is completed.
In his court filings, the man’s lawyers claimed that the delay was excessive and disproportionate, as the verification of his FUL and firearms should not take over a year.
“The Respondent could have kept a copy or ought to have a copy of the said license on file. Therefore, the continued seizure of the said License is without just cause and unwarranted,” attorney Savitri Samaroo said.
Samaroo also claimed that the failure of police officers to inform the man of the length of time the firearms and FUL would be seized was unreasonable and unjustifiable.
Through the lawsuit, the man is seeking declarations that the continued detention of the FUL and firearms is an irregular and improper exercise of discretion and an abuse of power.
He is also seeking an order quashing the decision and another compelling the release of the items.
The case is scheduled to come up for case management on November 17.