A constitutionally mandated commission is supposed to be an independent body that is able to make hard decisions which, even if they displease the Government, are still protected by law. Thus, by bending to political pressure it is giving up its authority and independence.
This is according to former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, who expressed grave concern that the Police Service Commission (PSC) appears to be obeying directives from President David Granger. The President had instructed the Commission, via letter, to halt all Police promotions.
“(If) the Commission agrees to abide by the direction of the President, then the Commission itself would be aiding and abetting the unconstitutionality,” the attorney said. “No authority or institution in this country has the power, the authority or the jurisdiction to violate or act contrary to the Constitution.”
“If the Police Service Commission is succumbing to those unconstitutional directives,” Nandlall continued, “then it is ceding its integrity, its independence and its functional authority and therefore would no longer be acting in the best interest of those whose welfare its business is to protect.”
Describing it as the height of executive lawlessness, Nandlall noted that the issue is symptomatic of the breakdown of constitutional institutions in Guyana. And while the Commission has its role to play, Nandlall emphasised that protecting the Constitution of Guyana was everyone’s business.
“What we are witnessing is political pressure being applied and which is causing a breakdown of constitutional institutions and a breakdown in law and order in this country. This is the height of executive lawlessness,” Nandlall said.
“Any citizen can approach the court for an order declaring the directives of the President as unlawful and obtain an order restraining the Commission from acting and being influenced by the directive. Every citizen has a duty to ensure that the Constitution, the supreme law of the country, is not violated.”
Earlier in the week, Chairman of the PSC, Omesh Satyanand, had made known that after a meeting with the other Commissioners, it was decided that they were going to adhere to the order to halt all promotions until further notice.
Even the Chairman had expressed concern that halting the entire promotion process would be a blow to senior officers. He had noted that these officers have invested time and energy in building a career at the Guyana Police Force and were expecting their just reward.
Noting that this was the first time a sitting President had issued such a directive to the Commission, he had called for some clarity and justification as to the circumstances that led to making such a decision.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon, in a letter dated July 27, 2017, wrote to the PSC informing them that the President directed that there be no consideration of promotion for members of the Guyana Police Force until further notice and should be implemented immediately.
Already, a number of decisions made by the coalition Government have been overturned by an independent judiciary, owing to their unconstitutional nature.
Six West Coast Berbice (WCB) rice farmers had cause to mount a legal challenge against the revocation of their leases for lands at Seafield and Number 40 Village, under control of the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA).
The acting Chief Justice ruled that their leases constitute property under Article 142 of the Constitution, and the President’s revocation of those leases amounted to depriving the applicants of property without compensating them, as noted in Article 142 of the Constitution.