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Govt violated Constitution in blocking Police promotions- CJ

Chief Justice, Roxane George-Wiltshire on yesterday ruled that the Executive violated Guyana’s Constitution by instructing the Police Service Commission (PSC) not to proceed with the promotion of several Senior Officers of the Guyana Police Force (GPF).

A constitutional challenged was filed in the name of Rajendra R. Jaigobin by his Attorney-at-Law and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Member of Parliament (MP), Mr. Mohabir Anil Nandlall. The action which was filed on the 17th August, 2017, against the Attorney General, Basil Williams in which the following reliefs were claimed:

(i) a declaration that the Police Service Commission, a Commission established by the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, in the exercise of its functions shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority;

(ii) a declaration that a letter dated the 26th of July, 2017, directed to the Secretary of the Police Service Commission, a Commission established by the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, by Mr. Joseph Harmon, Minister of State and a member of the Executive, advising that “His Excellency, President David Granger, has directed that there be no consideration of promotions for members of the Guyana Police Force by the Police Service Commission, until further notice … bring His Excellency’s directive to the immediate attention of the Commission”, is in violation of Article 226 of the Constitution of the Cooperative of Guyana, is unlawful, null, void and of no legal effect.

In court documents seen by Citizens’ Report, the Attorney General opposed the Application on the grounds that:

(i) the Applicant had no locus standi to institute the proceedings.

(ii) Upon the expiration of the life of the Police Service Commission, the Attorney General contended that the court should no longer determine the matter because the life of the commission has expired, therefore the matter is no longer a live matter, that it is of academic importance only, and that the courts do not act futility.

In a written Ruling, which was read to the court Madam Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire made the following seminal findings:

  • that the Application was justified in the public interest and therefore the Applicant has locus standi especially in light of the development of the law on locus standi;
  • that the letter sent by Minister Harmon was in flagrant disregard of the constitution and is unlawful, null, void and of no effect;
  • Her Honour expressed the hoped that the Police Service Commission did not act upon the unconstitutional letter;
  • that it speaks volumes that the Attorney General did not defend the matter on the merits but rather sought to hide behind legal arguments such as: “locus standi” and “that the matter is of academic importance”;
  • it is clear that this issue is not of academic importance but it is an issue of high constitutional importance;
  • additionally, that only two years ago, Minister Broomes, another Minister of the Government had issued similar directions to a Service Commission and although the Court with the consent of the Attorney General had declared that that letter had been in violation of the constitution, a similar palpable violation of the constitution was repeated by another Minister;
  • that in the face of this flagrant disregard for the constitution which the state conceded two years ago, the state should have done the honourable thing and correct the error rather than seek the defend these proceedings.
  • in the circumstances, the actions of the Minister Harmon in writing that the President has directed that there be no consideration of promotion of police officers was a blatant disregard of Article 226 of the Constitution which insulates the Police Service Commission from influence and directions of any other person or authority, especially political directions.

The High Court awarded Cost in sum of GYD $200,000 to the Applicant, Mr. Jaigobin.

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