…Ramjattan prepared to defend decision in court
President David Granger said Government will decide the future of Police Commissioner, Seelall Persaud, when he returns from ‘leave’ on January 20, 2018.
The President addressed the matter for the first time yesterday since it was revealed that a letter written by Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, to Persaud indicated that the ‘special leave’, effective November 24, 2017, was in the ‘public interest’ and ‘until further notice’.
Minister Ramjattan later clarified to Kaieteur News that until ‘further notice’ meant that the Commissioner will be on leave for 56 days and this is to facilitate the execution of the force’s Christmas security plans.
The President stated that since the coalition Government came to power in 2015 a policy has been established where public officers must take the leave due to them.
“This encourages the development of a good career system in which the subordinates are allowed to act,” the President stated.
He noted that in Persaud’s case, Government insisted that the leave that was due, be enjoyed rather than having it piecemeal.
“We said let him take his leave and then at the end of that leave we will decide how we go forward. Right now there is nothing abnormal or irregular about Mr. Persaud going on leave. The leave is due to him; he is not being sent home. He is enjoying vacation leave to which he is entitled,” President Granger stated.
The letter, seen by Kaieteur News, indicated that the Minister was advised to inform Persaud of the decision and that the decision is to allow for continuing initiatives and innovations being pursued by the force’s temporary administration to be completed before Persaud’s resumption of duty.
Persaud had been on accumulated leave since July 10. He should have resumed official duty on November 24 and proceed on pre-retirement leave next year with retirement by April 2018.
Minister Ramjattan said that Persaud is now on ‘pre-retirement leave’.
The Government believes that their move to send Persaud on leave will stand up to any challenge mounted through the court.
Former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, told Kaieteur News that Constitutional independent office holders like the Commissioner of Police can’t be forced to take leave. He said that it amounts to suspension or constructive dismissal which circumvents the regime of security of tenure which the constitution accords to the Commissioner of Police.
Nandlall had stated that in relation to suspension or dismissal, Article 225 of the Constitution which applies to the Commissioner of Police provides that the holder of that Office shall not be removed or suspended from the exercise of the functions, thereof except in accordance with the provisions of the Article.
The Article lists only two grounds upon which the Commissioner of Police can be removed from Office, and it relates to the Commissioner’s inability to perform the functions of his Office, whether arising from infirmity of body and mind. The second ground for removal is for misbehavior.
Nandlall noted that the Article provides that if the question of removal arises on the aforementioned grounds then the President must establish a tribunal, consisting of a Chairman and two other persons, who are judges or former judges or persons qualified to be judges, who shall investigate the question of the Commissioner’s removal from Office.
Ramjattan said yesterday that he has spoken with the Commissioner and he is okay with the decision to have him proceed on leave.
“It’s only Anil Nandlall, garrulous as he is, and Mr. Unconstitutional as he is now called finds it unconstitutional. Let him bring it to court its fine with me,” Minister Ramjattan said.
He recalled that former Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, had written to extend the stay of one Commissioner beyond the age of retirement, but it wasn’t viewed by Nandlall at the time as unconstitutional.
“I am now as a Minister saying, please take your leave and it’s a policy. One can say don’t take the leave, let it accumulate, but that is something inside Ministerial power and now when I say well take the leave, it’s unconstitutional all of a sudden,” Ramjattan pointed out.
Nandlall had warned of previous cases where Government had overstepped and this was also adopted through the court rulings. The most recent case relates to Acting Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire who ruled that the decision by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, to halt police promotions was unconstitutional.
Government halted the promotions earlier this year due to startling findings from the Commission of Inquiry set up to probe the police investigation of the plot to assassinate the President.
“The government of Guyana is deeply concerned about state security and we would have been failing in our duty if we ignored the warnings which came to us in a very direct manner that state security was being imperiled; was being jeopardized by certain actions.
“There was the question of necessity on the part of the Government of Guyana. I would like to iterate that we are respectful of the Honorable Chief Justice’s ruling and we will examine carefully the written ruling when it comes to us,” President Granger stated.
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