Court action filed over Granger directive to Police Service Commission

A court action was yesterday filed challenging a directive issued in the name of President David Granger to the Police Service Commission (PSC) for a hold to be placed on planned promotions this year.

Attorney Rajendra Jaigobin, who operates from the Chambers of former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, is seeking the following declarations by the court:

“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;

“a declaration that a letter dated the 26th of July, 2017, directed to the Secretary of the Public 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”.

The origin of the action is a letter sent by Harmon to the PSC on July 26 asking it to withhold work on the annual police promotions. Under the constitution, no such direction can be given.

The matter will come up on August 28.

On Tuesday, Granger said that the request to the PSC was taken because of complaints about the police.

A statement from the Ministry of the Presidency reported the President as saying that there have been many legitimate complaints by members of the PSC and aggrieved police officers of abuse and malpractice in the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and it is for this reason that he has asked for the promotion of police officers to be delayed.

“We are investigating the complaints, which have been made to us and we have asked the Police Service Commission to simply delay so that we can answer those queries and once those queries are satisfactorily answered we will proceed. It’s no intention on my part to impede the work of the Commission,” the President said.

In the action filed yesterday, Jaigobin cited the following sections of the constitution in his affidavit in support of the action.

He noted  that Article 212 (1) of the Constitution states:

“subject to the provision of article 211 (1), the power to make appointments to any offices in the Police Force of or the above the rank of Inspector, the power to exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such offices and the power to remove such persons from office shall vest in the Police Service Commission”.

Further,  he said Article 226 of the Constitution provides thus:

Article 226(1)     “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”

Further, Article 226(7) of the Constitution provides thus:

“in this article…the expression ‘commission’ means the Elections Commission, the Judicial Service Commission, the Public Service Commission, the Teaching Service Commission or the Police Service Commission”

Jaigobin added that Article 38(G) of the Constitution guarantees the integrity of Public Service and further insulates Public Officers from political influence and argued that it is clear that the  letter by Harmon and its contents are in flagrant violation of the letter, spirit and the intendment of Articles 38(G), 212 and 206 of the Constitution of Guyana.

Jaigobin also adverted to a letter of May 28, 2015 which then Minister in the Ministry of Social Protection, Simona Broomes issued trying to instruct the secretary of the Public Service Commission. That letter triggered legal proceedings where then Chief Justice Ian Chang ruled that the letter was in violation of Article 226 of the Constitution.

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