Latest update March 25th, 2023 12:52 AM
Jan 17, 2023 Court Stories, Features / Columnists, News
Kaieteur News – Despite President Irfaan Ali’s suspension of the Police Service Commission (PSC), former Chairman and retired Assistant Commissioner of Police, Paul Slowe was defiant and continued to perform his duties.
During Monday’s hearing of the legal challenge of President Ali’s suspension of the Commission, before Justice Gino Persaud at the Demerara High Court, Slowe through his attorney Selwyn Pieters said, inter alia, that he did not consider the suspension legal.
The lawyer argued that Slowe adopted that position because he believed the President failed to follow the constitutional guidelines relative to the suspension of the Commission.
Pieters reminded that at the time of the suspension, no tribunal was in place as is prescribed by the Constitution of Guyana. He argued that President Ali skipped an integral part of the process outlined for the suspension of the Commission.
The lawyer said his client did not feel obligated to comply with the suspension since the President failed to comply with the Constitution making his action unconstitutional and ultra vires (unlawful).
Nonetheless, Pieters agreed with Justice Persaud’s view that the constitutionally or lawful course of action taken to suspend the PSC is for a court of law to decide.
Attorney-at-law Darshan Ramdhani KC arguing on behalf of the secretary of the PSC, who is also listed as a respondent in the matter, centered his submissions on the fact that Slowe continued to function in the post even after he was suspended.
The lawyer noted that Slowe attempted to pass orders to the Secretary of the Commission who refused to follow the instructions given.
Ramdhani told the court that had the Secretary adhered to the instructions given then it would have led to “logical chaos”. The lawyer posited that his client acted within his right not to follow orders from a Commission the President had suspended.
Meanwhile, in his submission Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, SC noted that while the PSC as a constitutional body enjoys the same autonomy as the Judiciary, the Constitution does make provision for a suspension on the grounds of misbehaviour.
According to Nandlall, there was evidence that the PSC under the stewardship of Slowe and others had become “rogue.”
He noted that, among other things and in the circumstances, the President presumed his constitutional authority and suspended the PSC.
“I am not saying there was not constitutional non-compliance, because there was. However, it is not enough to negate the actions of the President given the circumstances. The fact that there was not a tribunal in place was not enough for the President not to exercise his powers… The tribunal is part of the procedural step but does not hold any power when it comes to the decision to suspend the PSC; that ultimately lies with the President,” Nandlall told the Court.
Along with other members of the Commission, Slowe challenged the suspension order in the High Court, seeking to have it revoked. The application challenging the suspension order was filed in 2021 by lawyers Selwyn Pieters, Dexter Todd, and Dexter Smart, on behalf of the suspended PSC members.
The PSC was suspended one June 16, 2021 by President Ali after Prime Minister Mark Phillips sent two “show cause” notices were sent to Slowe and former Commissioner, Clinton Conway.
The men, both Retired Assistant Commissioners of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) were asked to ‘show cause’ why the President should not follow the advice of the Prime Minister to remove them from the PSC.
The notices were issues after Slowe, Conway and others were charged for defrauding the Guyana Police Force (GPF) of $10M. Slowe was also accused of sexually assaulting a female cop on three occasions.
Based on the court document seen by Kaieteur News, the Paul Slowe led-PSC is, inter alia, seeking a declaration from the court that their purported suspension President Ali is contrary to, or in violation to the Constitution of Guyana.
They are contending that Articles 226(6) and 223(10) of the Constitution prove their case and should the court find favour with their arguments, they want their suspension order revoked.
Apart from this, Slowe and Conway are also asking the court to declare that the Prime Minister’s recommendation to the President for them to be removed is unlawful.
A decision in this matter is scheduled to be made on March 24, 2023 at 1:15pm.
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