TLT hearing occasions lengthy discussion of Charter rights
by John Q. Duffy
A full hearing into Shamim Chowdhury’s application for renewal of his Vehicle-For-Hire Driver’s Licence was adjourned to December 13 by the Toronto Licensing Tribunal sitting on October 25, 2018.
However, after lengthy discussions and arguments by both the City and the driver’s legal agent Mr. Blaha, Victoria Romero (chair) sitting with Anu Bakshi and Gary Yee decided an interim suspension of the license was in order.
At first, Blaha stated his client would not be testifying. However Steven Thompson, the City lawyer this day, argued that there were court decisions that allowed him to compel a licensee to testify and that normal prohibitions against forcing someone to self-incriminate did not apply to tribunals.
As well he said charges that have been withdrawn by Crown Attorneys can be brought forward at tribunal hearings.
Blaha pointed out Chowdhry “is not a witness for the City.”
And he said, “How can he be cross examined if he has not given evidence in chief? He’s not a witness for the City. He is a witness for himself. The City can’t call him.”
And Blaha also objected to withdrawn charges being presented to the tribunal as they are “highly prejudicial.”
He did say his client had no problem with discussing charges and facts he has already admitted to in court.
There was further discussion about whether the licensee’s Charter rights would be infringed by his being compelled to testify. The City argued there was no notice of Charter arguments being presented and Blaha noting the question of Charter rights did not come up until the start of this hearing.
In the end, the panel decided it would defer any decision on whether or not the licensee could be compelled by the City to testify until a later hearing date.
This proceeding then continued with Municipal Licensing and Standards staff testifying about Chowdhury’s driving record since 2015 when he was first licensed.
He had 10 driving convictions between April 2015 and September 2017 for speeding, failing to stop for emergency vehicles and failing to proceed on a green light.
Placed on probation by a TLT panel for this driving record, he continued to receive more tickets in 2017 and 2018, for speeding, for failing to produce an insurance card and failing to proceed on a green as directed.
The City, in submissions, argued that the license should be temporarily suspended.
Blaha then tried to submit details of Chowdhury’s life and responsibilities and Thompson objected noting none of what Blaha was saying had been presented in direct evidence.
After more arguments back and forth, the panel decided to allow testimony to be reopened but strictly limited to Chowdhury’s history and obligations.
Despite Blaha’s arguments the panel decided to impose the suspension as Chowdhury had demonstrated “a pattern of conduct… a very concerning pattern.”
In other matters, Golam Mustafa, holding a Vehicle-For-Hire Driver’s License, will continue to be allowed to drive taxi while awaiting the outcome of his trial in criminal court on a charge of sexual assault.
However he will have posted on his license that he may not drive unaccompanied female passengers at any time, he may not allow accompanied female passengers to sit in the front seat and he may not drive between the hours of 9 pm and 6 am.
Originally the City argued the preference would be to temporarily suspend the license, in the interest of protecting public safety.
Even though Mustafa vehemently protested his innocence, Steven Thomson, representing the City, said the evidence found in the police file on the alleged incident, in the possession of MLS and in the report before the tribunal, was sufficient to indicate the complaint was justified.
However the City declined further to get into the facts of the case, suggesting anything Mustafa said may have an impact on the upcoming criminal proceedings.
The tribunal limited arguments and submissions to deal narrowly with whether or not Mustafa could continue to work pending trial.
Mustafa, speaking with the help of an interpreter, initially had difficulty understanding that this was not his criminal trial, and tried to present his side of the case.
But eventually he came to understand this proceeding dealt solely with his VFH license, eventually arguing he was the sole support of his family. They do get some government assistance to help with their disabled son and several hundred dollars a month from another government program, but it is his part time cab driving that makes ends meet.
From what was presented at this hearing by the City, the nature of the alleged assault seems to be relatively minor, involving alleged unwanted touching.
Mohi Uddin’s application for renewal of his Vehicle-For-Hire Driver’s License was granted after a joint resolution was approved by the panel. The license will be on probation for two years and he must submit an up to date copy of his driving record at each of the next two renewals. MLS was concerned with some convictions out of province for speeding and Careless Driving. Apparently in Saskatchewan charges can be laid for doing five kph over the limit.
As well, Uddin has some (minor) bylaw charges and convictions here. He is only recently licensed in Toronto and is still learning the bylaw requirements as taxi drivers no longer go to a training school.
The estate of Paul Geiger, Susan Holtzman, Estate Trustee and co-trustee George Geiger, holding two taxicab licenses, was granted a one-year extension of time to sell the licenses. The estate is taking active steps to sell them.
Fahd Haddad’s hearing into his applicant for a Vehicle-For-Hire Driver’s License was adjourned to November 29th as he was ill this day and could not attend.