The Guyana Bar Association has weighed in on the controversy between Attorney General Basil Williams SC, and Deputy Solicitor General Prithima Kissoon, pointing out that someone should take the proverbial high road as the issue is one affecting the credibility of the office seen as the legal representation of the State.
This is according to former President and current Executive Member of the Bar Association, Teni Housty.
He noted that this did not necessarily mean that there should be no retaliation, when warranted. What it does mean, he said, is that there are rules and regulations to deal with such infractions.
“If there is a procedure to be followed, follow the procedure and let the procedure decide it. Do not try to proceed in the court of public opinion. Not because one party steps outside the rules means the other one has to step outside the rules.”
Housty noted the importance of the Attorney General’s Chambers, as the legal representation of Guyana’s state apparatus. The Attorney-at-Law pointed out that the expectation, therefore, was that as its status befits, it should not be exhibiting disunity.
“A public service is governed by rules and issues with discipline, insubordination, conduct of staff should be dealt with within. Now, when you step outside the rules and attempt to have issues canvassed outside the rules, what kind of example do you set to others following the observance of rules.”
“The concern is when you start to disregard one set of rules, what happens to the wider rules of society? To be representing a part of society which upholds the rule of law, and then (infighting occurs), what type of example would you be setting for the wider society?”
Housty went on to say that the entity’s reputation was now in question.
“When these things come out, it doesn’t fit (the entity’s repute). It weakens the confidence in the State machinery when it comes to the administration of justice. When these things happen, it is the administration of justice that suffers.”
This latest scandal originated from the dismissal of a State-sponsored appeal which led to the quashing of a case against former President Bharrat Jagdeo.
Williams had blamed the Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) for this outcome by publicly ridiculing her, in addition to criticising the Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Justice Carl Singh. His statements prompted rebukes across the political divide, with Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo distancing himself from Williams’ comments.
However, Kissoon has since filed a detailed complaint to the Public Service Commission (PSC). In the complaint, Kissoon spoke about the AG failing to give instructions or examining documents prepared by her prior to being filed or presented to the court.
She also claimed that Williams, who was recently made a Senior Counsel by President David Granger, instructed his assistants to refuse to accept any documents or correspondence from her.
Meanwhile, in another section of the media, Solicitor General Sita Ramlal, in a letter to the editor, pointed out that Williams had insisted to Kissoon and herself, that he be named as the plaintiff in the appeal when he was not a party.
“I did not prepare nor approve the Appeal in this matter. The Deputy Solicitor General, Ms Prithima Kissoon at all material times and at all stages had conduct of the matter and she was aware that an Appeal was being prepared. When the Appeal was to be filed, Ms Kissoon could not be found to affix her signature to same. The pleadings were brought to me for signature, whereupon I declined to sign same. I then went to the Honourable Attorney General and advised that he could not be a party to the action for the very same reasons…but the Honourable Attorney General was adamant and instructed me to sign and file the Appeal. This was done,” Ramlall stated.
In his defence, the AG claimed that he could no longer sustain Kissoon’s undermining of his Chamber’s cases.
He claimed that in cases where President David Granger, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and the Attorney General were sued, Kissoon deliberately disobeyed the instructions of the Attorney General and the Solicitor General with regard to challenging the applications on lack of jurisdiction, thereby causing the matters to be protracted. (Guyana Times)