Halting PSC’s promotions: President’s directive challenged in court

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A legal challenge has been mounted in the High Court challenging the constitutionality of President David Granger’s directive to the Police Service Commission (PSC) that they halt the promotion of several senior officers of the Guyana Police Force.

President David Granger

The legal proceedings were filed by Rajendra R Jaigobin.

Jaigobin said he has a vested interest in ensuring that Guyana’s Constitution is not violated and that it is his national duty to ensure that those representatives who, and the democratic organs which, exercise the sovereignty of Guyana on his behalf act in due compliance with the said Constitution in the discharge of their public functions and constitutional duties.

The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) had warned Government against any attempt to subvert constitutionally mandated commissions.

Moreover, PPP/C Shadow Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall recently wrote Minister of State Joseph Harmon requesting that he withdraw the directive to the PSC or they will be moving to the court.

The Party had dubbed the President’s directive vulgar and an authoritarian attempt by to trample upon the independence and functional autonomy of a constitutional agency. “The President and his Government continue, on a daily basis, to violate the rule of law, assault important democratic institutions, and breach in the most egregious fashion the Constitution.”

The Opposition pointed out that Article 226(1) of the Constitution states: “In the exercise of its functions under the Constitution, a Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority”.

According to the party, the PSC is one of the Commissions to which Article 226 (1) makes reference. The Party noted that by these directions, “it is clear that President Granger demonstrates absolute disrespect and disregard for the letter and spirit of the Constitution, and therefore continues to contravene its provisions with impunity.”

President Granger however, said that his Government has no intention of trampling on the constitutional rights of the PSC. He said his office has received a number of complaints from aggrieved senior Police Officers and has asked that those claims be investigated.

“There have been some doubts and we are investigating the complaints that have been made to us and we have asked the PSC simply to delay so that we can answer those queries”. He said as soon as those questions are answered, “we will proceed.”

According to President Granger, with the complaints, there is evidence that injustices might have been done. “We just need time to have the complaints from aggrieved Police Officers thoroughly investigated,” he said.

He stressed that Government is not seeking to trample on the constitutional rights of the Police Commission, but noted that damage could be done by persons who are not “fit and proper “to make decisions and which can be injurious to public security.

The Head of State said every effort should be made to prevent damage to the security infrastructure of the country and noted that while Government wants the constitutional commission to function, the Administration is paying attention to the situation.

Last week, a letter dispatched to the PSC, instructed the body to put a hold on a list of promotion for senior Police Officers, a move that was readily criticised by the political Opposition.

The President’s decision was made at a time when the Guyana Police Force (GPF) has been placed under the microscope during the Commission of Inquiry set up to probe allegations of a plot to assassinate him.

The case comes up for hearing before the Chief Justice on August 28.

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