Acting Chief Justice Ian Chang on Wednesday ruled that a directive given by Minister in the Ministry of Social Protection Minister Simona Broomes that the Public Service Commis-sion (PSC) suspend interviews to fill vacancies within her ministry violated the constitution and as a consequence is “unlawful, null, void and of no legal effect”.
Justice Chang also declared that the PSC is a Constitutional Office and as such shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.
Attorney Euclin Gomes on June 8 moved to the court to challenge the contents of a letter which was sent to the PSC.
Gomes, who works out of the law firm run by former Attorney-General Anil Nandlall, asked the High Court to grant a declaration that the PSC, in the exercise of its functions, shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority. He was also asking for a declaration that a letter sent to the PSC by Broomes, dated May 28 and directing that “all interviews and meetings of the Commission are to cease forthwith until further (sic) as instructed by His Excellency, the President, David Arthur Granger’s notice,” is in violation of Article 226 of the Constitution and is unlawful, null, void and of no legal effect.
Article 226 states: “Save as otherwise provided in this Constitution, in the exercise of its functions under this Constitution a Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.”
Gomes, in his supporting affidavit, had deposed that he had a vested interest in ensuring that the Constitution is not violated. He said the PSC is an independent constitutional commission tasked with the responsibility and power to make appointments to public offices within the Public Service and to remove and to exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such offices.
It was noted that the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security, now called the Ministry of Social Protection, has within its structure several public offices, which fall within the constitutional mandate and purview of the PSC.
Gomes, who included a copy of Broomes’ May 28 letter to the PSC, said that Article 38(G) of the Constitution guarantees the integrity of the Public Service and further insulates it from political influence.
Against this background, he said that “it is clear that the said letter and its contents are in flagrant violation of the letter, spirit and the intendment of Articles 38(G), 201 and 206 of the Constitution of Guyana.”
Broomes had come in for heavy criticism from the PPP/C over the missive. However Broomes, in response, said she wrote to the PSC simply asking that interviews slated for May 29 be discontinued until further instruction by President Granger because of several complaints of irregularities in the hiring process. She added that she was not even clear if the vacancies really existed.
Judgment was handed down on the second calling of the matter.