The House plenum on Friday unanimously rejected the president’s referral of the law giving the power to the chief of police to appoint a person of his/her choice as a specialist member of the force. The law, which was drafted by Edek deputy Costis Efstathiou and approved by the House on April 11, was considered unconstitutional on several counts by the state’s legal service which advised the president to send it back.

This peculiar law refers specifically to ‘rescuers’ and ‘winch operators’ on police aircraft, who could become officers, without going through the normal hiring procedures, or having the educational qualifications that are required of other applicants; the chief would also have the power to promote these so-called specialist officers. The chief would require the approval of the justice and public order minister to make the appointments, as if this would legitimise an irregular procedure.

Interestingly, the law is an amended version of a law that was approved by the legislature in 2021 and declared unconstitutional by the supreme court. The changes had not put right its unconstitutional aspects, argued a representative of the justice ministry at a House legal affairs committee meeting on Wednesday. There were contradictory and conflicting provisions, while it gave the chief the power to treat favourably specific members of the force. Through the law, it was argued, the legislature had usurped the authorities of the executive, to which the power to make appointments belongs.

It defies belief that the legislature called an extraordinary plenum session, while in recess, in order to vote on the president’s referral on such an incredibly trivial issue. Is it really a matter of urgency and national importance whether the chief of police can appoint and promote ‘winch operators’ and rescuers? Will this power make the police force more effective and boost enforcement of the law?  Will promotion of ‘winch operators’ make the police better able to fight organised crime?

There is more than enough favouritism in the force, without giving the chief of police an excuse to practise it openly. What is the reasoning behind legislating preferential treatment for police ‘specialists’? Perhaps there is something we are missing here, but it seems the more rational approach would be for the police to train some of its officers as ‘winch operators’ and ‘rescuers’ so there is no need to hire outsiders for the job. It seems no deputy had thought about this option, preferring instead to violate the constitution and set up a showdown between the executive and the legislature.

And all this, over a ludicrously inconsequential matter which did not even merit discussion. Instead, the political parties seem determined to waste the valuable time of supreme court, knowing full well that the executive will win the case.