PSC’s constitutional action against President, others put down

- New date for oral arguments to be announced soon

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Oral arguments in the constitutional action filed by the Police Service Commission (PSC) against President Irfaan Ali and Commissioner of Police Nigel Hoppie, which were set to commence on Monday did not materialise.

The Attorney General Chambers has written to the Registrar of the High Court Sueanna Lovell asking that the matter, which was fixed for oral arguments on August 16, 2021, before Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George be adjourned.

It was explained that Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, SC, had a “personal emergency” and will not be able to make oral arguments.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall (Photo: News Room/December 9, 2020)

The Registrar has since confirmed that the “short adjournment”, as requested by the Attorney General Chambers, was granted.

A new date for oral arguments is expected to be set subsequently. (The Registrar has since advised that oral arguments will be entertained on August 30, 2021, at 13:30 hours).

Nandlall has filed an Application in the High Court on behalf of the President for him to be struck out as a named respondent in the constitutional action because the president is immune from prosecution.

According to the Constitution, all actions brought against the President in his capacity as Head of State should only name the Attorney General.

The President has immunity under article 182 of the Constitution.

The suspended Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC) Paul Slowe along with the other suspended members had filed legal proceedings in the High Court against President Irfaan Ali, Prime Minister Brigadier (retired) Mark Phillips, Police Commissioner (ag) Nigel Hoppie and Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC.

The fixed date application, also against the Secretary of the PSC, was filed by attorneys Selwyn Pieters, Dexter Todd and Dexter Smartt on behalf of the PSC.

Commissioner of Police (ag) Nigel Hoppie

In the application, the PSC wants a declaration that the suspension of the Chairman and members of the PSC by President Ali was contrary to and in violation of the Constitution of Guyana, in particular articles 225 (6) and 210 (3).

The PSC was suspended by President Ali on the June 16, 2021.

Slowe has maintained since then that the suspension has no force or effect, a rejection that Nandlall has countered while insisting that the President’s decision can only be withdrawn by him or revoked by a Court.

The application urges the Court to declare that the Prime Minister’s advice to the President to suspend the PSC was unlawful and that the Chairman and members remain competent and responsible to carry out its functions.

In relation to a 2020 police promotion list, which was released by the PSC on June 28, 2021, the PSC has also asked the Court to mandate that the Secretary to prepare formal letters to the promoted ranks and a government order giving effect to the promotions be prepared.

The Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George, on June 28, threw out a challenge to the same list by other senior police officers. The Police Commissioner and the government have refused to acknowledge the promotion list.

The PSC also wants the Court to ask the Police Commissioner to cause a special promotion order to be prepared and for him to instruct the quartermaster to issue the newly promoted ranks with their respective badges.

The life of the Police Service Commission comes to an end in August 2021.

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