Police Service Commission was ‘unlawfully’ suspended – Court rules
High Court Judge, Gino Persaud on Friday ruled in favour of an application filed by former Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Paul Slowe, that the commission was unlawfully suspended in 2021.
Slowe wanted a declaration that the suspension of the Chairman and members of the PSC by President Dr Irfaan Ali was contrary to and in violation of the Constitution of Guyana, in particular articles 225 (6) and 210 (3).
Justice Persaud, in his ruling, reasoned that the issue should have been put to the tribunal of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) for ventilation but there is no JSC in place.
In this instance, the Judge said that the doctrine of necessity would have to be invoked to validate the President’s actions.
“The President does not have an unfettered discretion to suspend, as his suspension power only exists on the advice of the prescribed authority and or a decision of the tribunal.
“After the question of removal has been referred to the tribunal, it is still the independence of these constitutional office holders that they ought not be easily dismissed, removed or suspended except in the manner prescribed by the Constitution,” Justice Persaud said.
Slowe and the former PSC members were represented by attorneys Selwyn Pieters, Dexter Todd and Dexter Smartt.
“It seems apparent that the framers of the Constitution in their infinite wisdom, sought to create a mechanism which ensures due process and security of tenure, so that the membership of the Police Service Commission could not be easily subjected to arbitrary behaviour,” the Judge said.
Among other things, the Judge found that the President breached Slowe’s constitutional right for protection and due process.
The parties will have to file submissions on costs by April 14, 2023.
Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, had earlier challenged the naming of President Ali as a respondent since the Constitution shields him 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.
There were attempts to get the Court to delay hearing the case pending the outcome of an appeal filed against a judgement from the Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George, SC.
Justice George, in that ruling, upheld President Dr Irfaan Ali’s appointment of Patrick Findlay as the new 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.
In March 2022, Justice Persaud dismissed an interlocutory application by AG Nandlall seeking the dismissal of the 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 the Commission had ended.