Discontinuation of charges against lawyer: DPP notes inconsistencies in Policewoman’s evidence as reason for discontinuing charges
Amid public outcry on her decision to discontinue a private criminal charge for alleged racial hostility that was brought by Policewoman Shawnette Bollers against Attorney-at-Law Nirvan Singh, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Shalimar Ali-Hack, SC, on Friday, issued a statement explaining why she has advised the Police not to charge the lawyer.
The statement, which specifically addressed a file “Police v Nirvan Singh” that was forwarded to the DPP’s chambers by the Police on April 11 for legal advice, did not directly touch on her reasons for discontinuing the private criminal charge.
However, the private criminal charge filed by Bollers’s lawyer, Eusi Anderson, and the DPP’s advice to the Police were both pursuant to Section 2 of the Racial Hostility Act.
The DPP did not provide a reason for discontinuing the charge other than stating, “In the exercise of the powers conferred on me by Article 187 (1) (c) of the Constitution…, I hereby discontinue the charge in the above matter,” in an April 27 letter addressed to the Chief Magistrate. The private criminal charge was read to Singh on April 20.
It had stated that on March 20, 2022, at Middle and Cummings Streets, Georgetown, by means of words spoken by him in a public place, Singh wilfully excited and or attempted to excite racial hostility and ill-will against her on the ground of her race as an Afro-Guyanese, by using words directed to her and published by him.
She had alleged that Singh referred to her by the following phrases: “black monkey”, “monkey”, and “black people have no purpose in life”. This, she contended, is contrary to the Racial Hostility Act. Singh is the son of retired Justice Carl Singh, a former Chancellor of the Judiciary.
In relation to the Police file on the matter, the DPP said that four days after Singh appeared in court on the private criminal charge, she returned the file to the Police with several legal advice.
Ali-Hack noted that Section 2 of the Racial Hostility Act, states, “A person shall be guilty of an offence if he wilfully excites or attempts to excite hostility or ill-will against any section of the public or against any person on the grounds of their or his race – By means of words spoken by him in a public place or spoken by him and transmitted for general reception by wireless telegraphy or telegraphs; or by causing words spoken by him or by some other person to be reproduced in a public place from a record; or (c) by means of written (including printed) matter or pictorial matter published by him.”
She went on to explain that the elements of the offence are: “a person speaks words in a public place against any person on the grounds of their or his race, and he wilfully speaks those words to excite or attempts to excite hostility or ill-will against the person on the grounds of his race”.
According to the DPP, the aforementioned section when read as a whole suggests that the words spoken by the offender must also be transmitted for general reception by wireless telegraphy or telegraphs or be reproduced in a public place from a record. Further, she explained that the words must be spoken in a public place and transmitted for general reception by wireless telegraphy or telegraphs or be reproduced in a public place from a record. However, the DPP found that the evidence in the Police file does not fit the criteria stated in Section 2 of the Act.
Further, she said that word “against” used in the Section tends to suggest that the offender by his words tends to cause others to act in a certain way against the virtual complainant.
“Put another way, the offence is created when the offender’s expressions cause others to act in a certain way against a Section of the public or a person on the grounds of their race (his expressions excited or attempted to excite others to act with hostility or ill-will against a section of the public or against another person),” the Senior Counsel outlined.
Here again, Ali-Hack noted that the evidence is not consistent with the offence created under Section 2 of the Act as the words used by Singh were not spoken in order to excite others to act with hostility or ill-will against Bollers. With respect to the allegation by Bollers that she was spat on by Singh, the DPP again noted that there is an inconsistency regarding this allegation.
She said that the alleged incident occurred on March 20 at about 22:13h at the Singh’s residence.
“…I was verbally attacked by Mr Carl Singh’s son with racial slurs and was asked to leave the compound, however, I was about to document in the diary what was taking place, but after feeling threat for my life. Because he was in front of my face spitting up where I could smell the high volume of alcohol on his breath. I pick up my belongings, and I step out of the location…” the DPP quoted Bollers as saying in her written report entered in the Police station diary.
But the DPP said that Bollers’s written report does not state that the younger Singh wilfully spat on her. She disclosed that the Policewoman’s statement dated March 21, states on page two, that the lawyer “spit in my face” and “stepped away from the door.” As was pointed out before, this accusation was not reported in the Police diary on the night of the incident when the events would have been fresh in the mind of the complainant, the statement added.
Also, in her statement, Bollers, according to the DPP, disclosed that Singh “approached the hut door again and continue shouting with spit from his mouth spraying in my face, get out of the yard, get out of my yard.” Based on Bollers’s evidence as a whole, Ali-Hack noted that it is clear that Singh was “spitting up” while speaking and it was not a deliberate act of spitting.
The cop has since instituted civil proceedings against Singh. In a defamation lawsuit filed against him at the Demerara High Court, she is seeking $150 million in damages. She argues that the words uttered by Singh, in their natural and ordinary meaning, were understood to mean that she was not a human being, and by extension not worthy of recognition for her humanity or human dignity.
The Policewoman had alleged that Singh approached her and chased her off of the property, forcing her to abandon her post and duties. She complained that, in chasing her, the lawyer spoke to her in an “aggressive and loud manner”, while hurling several racist remarks at her.
She said the tirade lasted for about 14 minutes, after which she left the scene and walked a couple of miles to another location in Georgetown in the dark of night alone.
But Singh had denied the allegations, stating, “I wish to say that the racist conduct of which I am accused in no way reflects my philosophy or personal values. More importantly, it would be an indictment on my parents and elders, given their efforts to ensure that my upbringing would produce in me a person of the highest moral, ethical, and professional conduct”.
Addressing his alleged attack on Bollers, he had said that he would await the matter being properly determined in court, and had added that he would strive to remain respectful and faithful to his values, to serve his clients from all walks of life with professionalism, and to use every opportunity to be of service or support to his fellow citizens, regardless of race, class, or creed.
Hours after the discontinuation of the charge, Bollers’s lawyer, in a press statement, threatened to institute legal proceedings if the DPP fails to provide reasons for her decision by Monday.
Meanwhile, during a solo protest outside the DPP’s office on Thursday, Bollers accused Ali-Hack of denying her of her right to be heard in a court of law. Still seeking redress, the Policewoman has vowed to challenge the DPP’s decision all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).