Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde has indicated that he will be appealing today’s ruling by the Chief Justice on the President’s unilateral appointment of Clifton Hicken as the Acting Commissioner of Police.
In a statement, Mr. Forde said the ruling that President Irfaan Ali did not violate the Constitution when he unilaterally appointed Mr. Hicken to act as Commissioner of Police in the absence of consultations, is regrettable.
“The decision delivered by the acting Chief Justice this afternoon in the matter of Jones v Attorney General must be cause for great concern and it is regrettable that it is to be considered as a judicial green light to unilateral appointments by the Presidency and of course by Irfan Ali, the current President,” Forde said in a statement today.
The Chief Justice in her ruling said the President could not be faulted for exercising his own deliberate judgement when there was no Leader of the Opposition or Police Service Commission in place when the appointment was made on March 30.
But Senior Counsel Forde who represented the applicant Christopher Jones in the matter, said the decision appears to be preoccupied with the fact that there was no Opposition Leader for a period of three months.
“The decision while strangely and eerily silent on the unilateral removal of the entire Police Service Commission by Irfan Ali, is preoccupied with the impact and purport of then vacancy in the office of the Leader of the Opposition, without any consideration that the President failed to appoint the Police Service Commission for months substantially contributing to the state of affairs that led to the action being filed in the Court,” Forde said.
The life of the Police Service Commission expired in August 2021 after the entire Commission had already been suspended by the President. It wasn’t until May 31, 2022 that a new Commission was reconstituted by the President.
Mr. Forde said by the Court’s own analysis on the failure of the President to constitute the Police Service Commission must therefore be an operating reason for the Court approved unilateral appointment of Hicken, presumably as much as the absence of a person occupying the office of Leader of the Opposition.
“It is disappointing that the Court failed to recognise and or consider that state of affairs was created by the unconstitutional removal of the Police Service Commission and the failure by the President to constitute the said Commission,” he said.
The Chief Justice also ruled today that “to act and to perform the duties of” are the same, in that, someone has to be appointed to hold the position until a substantive appointment is made in accordance with the Constitution.
But Forde maintains that an acting appointment could only be made when there is a Leader of the Opposition and Police Service Commission.
“The merger of these two distinct types of appointments will cause havoc in our Constitutional system and further weaken rather than strengthen the Constitutional edifice of Guyana,” he opined.
He said the impact of this judgment is too grave for it to be left standing and in the circumstances, an Appeal will be filed to set aside the decision.