PSC moves to High Court over its suspension by President Ali

Supreme Court to hear Police Service Commission's suspension case

The Police Service Commission (PSC) on Tuesday filed legal proceedings against President Irfaan Ali, Prime Minister Mark Phillips, Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, and Police Commissioner Nigel Hoppie over the suspension of its Chairman Paul Slowe and other members.

The PSC is seeking a declaration that the suspension of Slowe, a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police, and Commissioners Michael Somersall, Claire Jarvis, Vesta Adams, and Clinton Conway by President Ali violates the Constitution of Guyana, and therefore is of no force or effect.

In court documents filed at the Demerara High Court, the PSC is also seeking a declaration that Slowe and the Commissioners “remain competent and responsible to fulfill their constitutional mandate including appointments to any officers in the Police Force above the rank of Inspector.

Another declaration is being sought that the Prime Minister’s recommendation to the President that the question of removing Slowe and the Commissioners from their respective officers is contrary to, in violation of, and ultra vires the Constitution, in particular Article 225 (2), being made on grounds other than inability to discharge the functions of their office or misbehaviour.

The Secretary of the Police Service Commission has also been listed as a Respondent in the proceedings, and the PSC is asking the High Court to grant an order of Mandamus directed to the said Secretary to prepare formal letters to the ranks named on the official promotion list compiled and signed by it on June 28, informing the said ranks of its decision to promote them.

The Police Service Commission is further seeking an order of Mandamus directed to its Secretary requiring the said Secretary to have a Government order prepared giving effect to the promotions list and to instruct the Principal Personnel Officer to publish same.

Moreover, the Commission wants the High Court to order the Commissioner of Police to cause a special promotion order to be prepared to inform the ranks listed for promotion on the promotion list of their respective promotions in accordance with convention and his role and responsibilities under the Constitution and the Police Act. The High Court is also being asked to order the Top Cop to give instructions to the Quartermaster to issue the newly promoted ranks with their respective badges.

Attorneys-at-law Selywn Pieters, Dexter Todd, and Dexter Smartt are representing the PSC.

President Ali suspended the PSC in June. Slowe and Commissioner Conway are facing charges for allegedly defrauding the Police Force of $10 million- which reflects payments made to them and other serving and current officers to revise the Force’s Standing Order- which they have failed to do, according to the Special Organised Crime Unit.

Shortly after they were charged, the Prime Minister wrote to them asking them to show cause why they should not be removed from their respective post on the PSC. Through their lawyers, they have responded denying any wrongdoings, and pointed out that the question of their removal has to be determined by a competent tribunal in keeping with Article 225 of the Constitution.

Slowe had said the President’s suspension of the Commission was related to cases filed in December 2020 by Senior Superintendent of Police Calvin Brutus, and other officers challenging the promotions of senior officers made by the PSC in 2020.

Chief Justice Roxanne George dismissed the cases last month. Following her ruling,  the PSC released its promotion list- which the Government said it would not be recognizing. Slowe has already said that notwithstanding its “purported suspension” the PSC will continue to execute its constitutional mandate in respect to discipline and promotion of officers of the Guyana Police Force.

In a letter sent to the Head of State last month, the PSC Chairman noted that Under Articles 225 and 210(3), the Prime Minister may advise the President to suspend him, but not to suspend the other members. “Rather, for the President to suspend these other members, the prescribed authority who must so advise him is the Chairman himself,” Slowe said, adding that he has not advised on such.

Slowe in the missive had told the President that he has flagrantly violated the letter, spirit, and intent of some of the most sacrosanct constitutional provisions and indeed his actions strike at the heart of Guyana’s constitutional democracy.  He further pointed out that Presidents and Prime Ministers, as the case may be, have been impeached for far less in democratic countries.