…cites constitutional violation and former Chief Justice’s 2015 ruling
“I respectfully demand that you withdraw, in writing, your letter dated 2017-07-26, addressed to Marvalyn Stephens, Secretary, Police Service Commission, Waterloo Street, Georgetown, within two (2) days of the date hereof. If you fail to do so, I will have no alternative but to institute legal proceedings in relation thereto,” former Attorney General Anil Nandlall penned in a letter directed and delivered to Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, on Monday.
Minister Harmon had, in a letter dated July 27th, written to the Police Service Commission (PSC), informing that the President directed that there be no consideration of promotion for members of the Guyana Police Force until further notice, and that this no-consideration should be implemented immediately.
Nandlall’s letter to Harmon, however, argues that the President’s directive violates both the letter and spirit of Article 226(1) of the Constitution of Guyana, the relevant part of which reads, “…in the exercise of its functions under this Constitution, a Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.”
Further, Article 226(7) states, “In this article…the expression ‘commission’ means the Elections Commission, the Judicial Service Commission, the Public Service Commission, the Teaching Service Commission, (and) the Police Service Commission.”
Shortly after assuming office in May 2015, then Junior Social Protection Minister Simona Broomes had written to the Public Service Commission, instructing that “all interviews and meetings of the Commission are to cease forthwith until further (notice), as instructed by His Excellency, the President, David Arthur Granger’s notice.”
In June, Attorney-at-law Euclin Gomes had, through Nandlall, filed legal proceedings against the Attorney General, claiming that the Constitution had similarly been violated.
Then Chief Justice Ian Chang had heard the matter and ruled that the Public Service Commission, a Commission established by the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, shall, in the exercise of its functions, not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.
“It is by consent further ordered and declared that a letter dated the 28th of May, 2015, directed to the Secretary of the Public Service Commission, a Commission established by the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, by Ms. Simona Broomes, A Minister and a member of the Executive, advising that ‘all interviews and meetings of the Commission are to cease forthwith until further (sic) as instructed by His Excellency, the President, David Arthur Granger’s notice’, is in violation of Article 226 of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana; is unlawful, null, void and of no legal effect…,” Chang declared.
“As an Attorney-at-Law, I have no doubt that you appreciate that the Police Service Commission and the Public Service Commission form part of the same constitutional genus, and therefore, the Order of Chief Justice Chang will apply with equal force to your letter to the Police Service Commission, mutatis mutandis. Indeed, I express shock that you would author such a letter in the first place,” Nandlall said in his letter to Harmon.
Chairman of the PSC, Omesh Satyanand, told this publication that this is the first time that the constitutional body had received such a directive from a sitting President. “We are not sure about the reason for the President to give such a directive; there was no clarity, and personally, as the Chairman, I would want to see some clarity or some justification why he would arrive at a decision like that,” he added.
The instruction to put all Police promotions on hold until further notice took a new twist on Saturday last, when a copy of the list was leaked to the media. The list revealed that several senior officers who were hauled before the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the alleged plot to assassinate the President are on that list.
Assistant Police Commissioner Clifton Hicken was tipped to be promoted to Deputy Commissioner of Police; while current Crime Chief, Senior Superintendent Wendell Blanhum, had been lined up for Assistant Commissioner.
Head of Special Branch, Brian Eastman, was also listed to become a Senior Superintendent of Police; while Head of the Major Crimes Unit, Assistant Superintendent Mitchell Caesar, had been recommended for Deputy Superintendent.
A report in the State media had alleged that the list had contained officers who were unfit for promotion. This had been used as an excuse for the President’s move. But in the wake of the revelation that officers currently under pressure at the CoI are actually part of this “unfit” list, questions are being raised whether a plot is afoot.
Former Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee had said that the recent directive shows that the Government has its own plans, and the “witch-hunting phase is being set in motion.”(Lakhram Bhagirat)