The Public Service Commission (PSC), with a mere six hours remaining before its term expired, terminated the services of Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Prithima Kissoon, after arrogating on itself the powers of the President to invoke a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) later used as the basis for her dismissal.
This course of action was taken despite the PSC never pronouncing on the complaints filed against the Attorney General (AG) and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams.
The revelations have been made public by Kissoon, who in a chronology of events shared with this publication, said she remained silent throughout the ordeal since her complaint against Williams to the PSC, because public servants are prohibited from making comments in the public domain, but now that she has been dismissed “this shackle is removed”.
The very public spat between the Attorney General and his DSG had made the news in recent months, but came to a finale on August 31, 2017. Exactly six hours before the life of the PSC came to an end at midnight on August 31, 2017, Kissoon was served with a dismissal letter at 18:00h at her residence by the Personal Assistant of the Attorney General, Andrea Marks. This was subsequently followed by an official dismissal letter on the letterhead of the PSC.
Lamenting the situation, the now former Deputy Solicitor General in her now public statement said a new PSC would convene and the complaint by her against the Attorney General would never have been addressed.
According to Kissoon, “my good name has been filched, my character assassinated, my career that I worked so hard to build in the public service for the past 10 years lays shattered at my feet, but my integrity and ethics are rock solid.”
Kissoon had her services terminated purportedly at the recommendation of ‘an illegal’ CoI that had been set up by the PSC.
According to the now former Deputy Solicitor General, “realising that the life of the PSC was about to expire, the PSC acted arbitrarily and ultra vires its powers when it purportedly appointed a Commission of Inquiry…It is only the President who can appoint a CoI, which must be duly gazetted and follow the rules of the procedures under the Commission of Inquiry Act Chapter 19:03.”
She said this unlawful CoI was constituted with indecent haste on August 18, 2017, and issued a summons on August 21, 2017, for Kissoon to appear before it on August 23, 2017, and the PSC came out with the verdict of dismissal on August 31.
Kissoon was sent on leave earlier this year with the permission of the PSC, but had later found that the Legal Affairs Ministry Permanent Secretary objected to her leaving the country while on leave and a decision was taken to withhold her salary.
The debacle came to the public’s attention in January 2017 when Kissoon lodged a formal complaint to the PSC against the Attorney General.
She said Attorney General Williams “had visited upon her harassment, verbal abuse and had effectively prohibited her from performing her duties all in an effort to oust her from her post as the Deputy Solicitor General, whether by lawful or unlawful means, and was seeking their intervention and a remedy against the conduct of Mr Basil Williams SC, the Attorney General”.
She was informed in March 2017 by the PSC that she should proceed on administrative leave with immediate effect, pending the outcome of investigations into several court matters that she had conduct of.
The AG had launched a probe into cases which Deputy Solicitor General Kissoon was involved in, following a ruling handed down by the Court of Appeal, dismissing a State-sponsored appeal against a High Court decision that quashed a private criminal charge against Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo.
The Appeal Court ruled that the appeal was null after Kissoon had conceded to a claim by Jagdeo’s lawyer that the Attorney General was not a proper party to the proceeding.
AG Williams has since blamed Kissoon for the outcome of the case.
However, although he has blamed Kissoon for the loss, Solicitor General Sita Ramlall, in a letter to the editor, had 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.