Prithima Kissoon has remained silent since her complaint against the Attorney General, Mr. Basil Williams S.C., to the Public Service Commission because public servants are prohibited from making comments in the public domain but now that she is dismissed this shackle is removed.
In Ms. Kissoons complaint to the Public Service Commission on the 27th January, 2017, against the Attorney General, she stated that the Attorney General, Mr. Basil Williams S.C., had visited upon her harassment, verbal abuse and had effectively prohibited her from performing her duties all in an effort to oust her from her post as the Deputy Solicitor General whether by lawful or unlawful means and was seeking their intervention and a remedy against the conduct of Mr. Basil Williams S.C., the Attorney General. Ms. Kissoon had also therein requested permission from the Public Service Commission to leave the jurisdiction during her vacation leave.
The Public Service Commission (hereinafter referred to as the PSC) is a constitutionally independent body sworn in by the President pursuant to Article 200 of the Constitution of Guyana Chapter 1:01 with the power to make appointments to public offices, to remove and after due process to exercise disciplinary control over persons holding such offices, so that if it operates according to its mandate, not even the President should be able to direct its operation on issues pertaining to the Public Service.
On the 31st August, 2017, exactly six hours before the life of the Public Service Commission came to an end at midnight on the 31st August, 2017, Prithima Kissoon, Deputy Solicitor General, was served with a dismissal letter at 6 pm at her residence by the Personal Assistant of the Attorney General, Ms. Andrea Marks. This was subsequently followed by an official dismissal letter on the Letter Head of the PSC.
Having ignored, shelved and abandoned the complaint against the Attorney General, Mr. Basil Williams S.C., made by Ms. Kissoon, Deputy Solicitor General, to the PSC since 27th January, 2017, which made glaring headlines in all the newspapers of Guyana, and the Attorney General, Mr. Basil Williams S.C., fully publicized accusations of Ms. Kissoon, Deputy Solicitor General, subverting the government and aiding Mr. Anil Nandlall and the PPP/C in their cases, Rip Van Winkle suddenly awoke and plunged into action allowing itself to be manipulated and with its dying breath issued this edict of dismissal. But not a peep from the PSC nine months after receiving a complaint against the Attorney General.
In February, 2017, Ms. Kissoon was granted her deferred vacation leave from November, 2016, and again applied for permission from the permanent secretary of the ministry of legal affairs to spend her vacation leave out of Guyana but the Permanent Secretary never responded so she spent her vacation leave in Guyana.
In March 2017, Ms. Kissoon was informed by the PSC that she should proceed on Administrative Leave with immediate effect pending the outcome of investigations into several court matters that she had conduct of. The PSC did not give a period or time limit with regard to how long she was to remain on administrative leave and there were no conditions attached to her administrative leave. She was effectively relieved from duty by the PSC pending the outcome of the investigations. She was now under the authority of the PSC.
The Secretary of the PSC had earlier advised Ms. Kissoon that if she intends to leave the country she should notify the PSC of how she could be contacted whilst abroad which she duly complied with in writing dated 7th March, 2017.
On the 29th May, 2017, the permanent secretary to the Ministry of Legal Affairs who now has no legal authority over Ms. Kissoon wrote:
“As you are aware Ms. Prithima Kissoon, Deputy Solicitor General, is on “administrative leave” with effect from 2nd March, 2017. However, on 7th March, 2017, she left the country without permission from the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Legal Affairs.” The permanent secretary as a result concluded: “Hence, she is in breach of Public Service Rule H12(1)…..In the circumstances and on the directive of the Attorney General Chambers I was advised and instructed that her salary be withheld with immediate effect pending the course of disciplinary action by the Public Service Commission.” [H1] This was only revealed after her Attorney at Law, Mr. Nigel Hughes, wrote to the permanent secretary inquiring why salary was not paid.
On 9th June 2017, Ms. Kissoon accompanied by her Attorney at Law attended a meeting at the PSC Office where counsel inquired of the commissioners, Ms. Went, Ms. Stephens and Ms. Ali whether they had withheld or authorized the withholding of salary. Mr. Nigel Hughes further inquired of the commissioners of the status of Ms. Kissoons complaint against the Attorney General. The Commissioners informed counsel that they had not withheld or authorized the withholding of salary and were unable to say what was the status of the complaint against the Attorney General.
There has also not been a single word from the Attorney General Chambers to the PSC to substantiate Mr. Basil Williams S.C., theatrical and hysterical accusations splashed in numerous headlines for weeks in all the newspapers of Guyana and electronic media worldwide starting with the publication in the Guyana Chronicle on the 19th January, 2017, with the sensational headline “Singh Strikes Twice.
Realizing that the life of the PSC was about to expire, the PSC acted arbitrarily and ultra vires its powers when it purportedly appointed a Commission of Inquiry. It is only the President who can appoint a COI which must be duly gazetted and follow the rules of the procedures under the Commission of Inquiries Act Chapter 19:03. This unlawful Commission of Inquiry was hurriedly constituted with indecent haste on the 18th August, 2017, and issued a summon on the 21st of August, 2017, for Ms. Kissoon to appear before the purported COI on the 23rd August, 2017, and the PSC came out with the verdict of dismissal on the 31st August.
This purported COI comprising of Mr. McGarrel, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communities as Chairman, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the President and Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Business as commissioners was convened not to investigate the complaint made by Ms. Kissoon on the 27th January, 2017, against the Attorney General, Mr Basil Williams S.C., but to investigate whether Ms. Kissoon left the country without permission and if so to hear an explanation in defence.
As it subsequently unravelled this purported COI of the PSC was urgently created by invisible hands behind the scenes in the death throes of the PSC with the sole and only purpose and mission to oust Prithima Kissoon, the Deputy Solicitor General, from her post. Ms. Kissoon attended the purported COI on the 23rd August, 2017, accompanied by Attorney at Law, Mr. Jailall Kissoon, who appeared out of courtesy for the Commission, and on behalf of her Attorney at Law, Mr. Nigel Hughes, who was out of the jurisdiction.
Mr. Nigel Hughes, however, sent a letter to the COI on the 22nd August, 2017, which the Chairman acknowledged receiving. Mr. Nigel Hughes wrote to the COI seeking clarification about the following: (1) The date on which the approval was given by the PSC. (2) The process by which the members of the commission will be identified. (3) The powers pursuant to which the commission purported to act when it made this decision and (4) Whether the Commission has been established and the membership thereof. To date there has been no response.
Little did Ms. Kissoon know that her presence, letters, responses or requests were of no consequence. The charade continued. Mr. Jailall Kissoon requested an adjournment to the 15th September, 2017, when Mr Hughes will be present. The Commissioners conferred and the Chairman stated that the COI was urgent and insisted on asking Ms. Kissoon pertinent questions whereupon Mr. Kissoon advised her not to answer any questions unless her counsel was present. The Constitution guarantees the presence of legal representation as well as the Commission of Inquiries Act Chapter 19:03 Section 13. In trying to placate Mr. Jailall Kissoon, who repeatedly requested an adjournment to facilitate the presence of Mr. Nigel Hughes, the Chairman stated that their mandate was only to gather information and not to make any recommendations and or decisions to the PSC.
There was no evidence taken from Ms. Kissoon before the COI. Ms. Kissoon did not participate in the proceedings before the COI as she was not duly represented by counsel. Upon inquiring what was going to be the written report of the commission the Chairman replied that he will write acknowledging that Ms. Prithima Kissoon was there respectfully and that she was not willing to answer questions without the presence of her counsel Mr. Nigel Hughes.
The letter of dismissal reads as follows; “As a result of the inquiry concluded on the 23rd August, 2017, by the Committee set up by the PSC, in which you had participated, the commission, after careful consideration of the matter, has decided that you should be dismissed from the Public Service with effect 2017-08-31 inclusive for leaving the country without prior approval in accordance with the provisions of existing rules.”
A new PSC will convene and the complaint by Ms. Kissoon against the Attorney General Mr. Basil Williams S.C. will never have been addressed. Kissoon’s good name has been filched, character assassinated, and a career that was worked so hard to build in the public service for the past 10 years lays shattered at her feet but her integrity and ethics are rock solid.
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