Judge rules Police Service Commission suspension case can go ahead


After two years of numerous legal challenges, come January 16, 2023, Justice Gino Persaud will commence hearing the substantive case of former chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Paul Slowe, who is challenging the then Commission’s suspension by President Dr Irfaan Ali.

The now reconstituted PSC and the Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, had tried to get the Court to delay hearing the case pending the outcome of an appeal filed against a judgement from the acting Chief Justice Roxane George, SC.

Justice George upheld President Dr Irfaan Ali’s appointment of Patrick Findlay as Chairman of the PSC as well as his appointment of the Integrity Commission.

Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton has appealed that judgement, claiming that the Chief Justice erred and misdirected herself in law when she so ruled. Opposition Chief Whip, Christopher Jones, had also appealed the August ruling of the CJ in the case where she affirmed the appointment of Clifton Hicken as acting Commissioner of Police.

The attorneys had asked the court to wait for the determination of those appeals until the case by Lowe is heard. However, Justice Persaud while delivering his ruling on Friday, said applications have “stymied” hearing of the substantive proceedings. He said that as far as he is aware, there is no stay of the Chief Justice’s ruling and in any event, there can be no stay of the proceedings.

“I am not prepared to stay proceedings before me pending the appeal of the Chief Justice’s ruling, which would leave the proceedings before me in limbo since that appeal will take time to be heard and determined and we have no indication how long that will take.
“Further, that appeal in no way impacts upon or precludes Mr. Slowe’s right to have the lawfulness of his suspension adjudicated upon. This is also an access to justice issue for Mr. Slowe,” the judge said.

Justice Gino Persaud

He stressed that the issue of the legality of the suspension cannot be withdrawn by the reconstituted PSC since this issue is yet to be adjudicated in the substantive matter. The Judge said the application filed by the PSC’s attorney Darshan Ramdhani to discontinue the substantive application” cannot receive prospective validation” since those arguments were “crippled” by the Chief Justice’s ruling.
He ordered the respondents Prime Minister Brigadier (retired) Mark Phillips, Police Commissioner (ag) Nigel Hoppie and the Attorney General to file an affidavit in defence by December 16.

The parties will file written submissions by January 9, 2023. Oral arguments are scheduled for January 16 for oral addresses.
In March, Justice Persaud had dismissed an interlocutory application by AG seeking the dismissal of a constitutional action brought by the former PSC. Nandlall had contended that the action which was filed in July 2021 could not proceed to finality because the PSC expired one month later in August 2021.

In his ruling, Justice Persaud said it was not logical or fair to throw out the substantive case because the life of Commission had ended.
In dismissing the application, Justice Persaud ordered no costs since the matter in the public interest but said that Slowe must now be substituted for the PSC as the applicant since no Commission is in place. He said the Attorney for the PSC erred when the case was filed since they were well aware that at the time the members were all suspended and the life of the PSC would soon expire.

The PSC wanted 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 June 16, 2021.

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.

Earlier, Nandlall challenged the naming of President Ali as a respondent since the constitution shields the President from prosecution through Presidential immunity articulated under Article 182 (1) of the Constitution. In September 2021, Justice Persaud upheld this constitutional shield and ordered that Dr. Ali’s name be removed from constitutional action.

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