Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George, SC, on Thursday, ruled that President Dr Irfaan Ali constitutionally resorted to appointing Deputy Commissioner of Police Clifton Hicken to act as the country’s Police Commissioner, noting that the Head of State’s decision was “reasonable”.
The ruling came on application against the State by APNU+AFC Chief Whip Christopher Jones, who had sought the quashing of Hicken’s appointment on the ground that the Head of State violated Articles 211 (1) and 211 (2) of the Constitution of Guyana when he failed to “meaningfully consult” with the Opposition Leader on making the appointment.
Since there was no Opposition Leader with whom the President must consult and no Police Service Commission (PSC), Justice George held that President Ali was obligated to appoint someone to fill the post in the interest of the nation and the Guyana Police Force (GPF).
In conclusion, the Chief Justice, dismissed Jones’s application, labelling it “vexatious and an abuse of the court process”. She also made an order for cost against him.
Article 211 (1) mandates that “the Commissioner of Police and every Deputy Commissioner of Police shall be appointed by the President acting after meaningful consultation with the Leader of the Opposition and the Chairperson of the Police Service Commission after the Chairperson has consulted with the other members of the Commission”.
Meanwhile, provisions for a person to act in the office of the Police Commissioner are outlined under Article 211 (2) of the Constitution, and the provisions contained in Article 211 (1), shall apply to such an appointment as they apply to the appointment of a person to hold that office.
Hicken’s appointment took effect from March 30. At that time, the Office of the Opposition Leader was vacant following the resignation of Joseph Harmon on January 26. Aubrey Norton—Leader of the PNCR—was appointed Opposition Leader on April 13. The tenure of the previous PSC expired on August 8, 2021; it was reconstituted on May 31 by President Ali.