While handing down her decision in a recent case brought against the Government by the Opposition, Acting Chief Justice Roxane George said the tone of engagement between the Leader of the Opposition, Aubrey Norton and the Government on constitutional appointments leave much to be desired.
“The process has become confrontational,” the Chief Justice (ag) said at the conclusion of a ruling on Tuesday on the appointments of the Police Service Commission and the Integrity Commission by President Irfaan Ali.
The Office of the President through the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Gail Teixeira has been in communication with the Opposition Leader on constitutional appointments since April.
But though it resulted in the first high-level meeting between the Opposition Leader and the President in May, the meeting was followed by a series of written exchanges that bore little fruit, and landed the two sides in court after the President moved to appoint the Police Service Commission and the Integrity Commission.
“Parties to a consultative process must respectfully focus on what the consultation is about and not on peripheral and irrelevant issues,” the Chief Justice (ag) told the two sides.
She said the duty bearers must conduct themselves in a responsible manner, and act in the best interest of Guyanese as required by the Constitution.
In offering her observation, the Chief Justice also expressed concerned over the failure to reconstitute Service Commissions within a timely manner.
“It is highly unfortunate that the Service Commissions as provided for by the Constitution, the supreme law of the land, have not been constituted or reconstituted in a timely manner. This is a disservice to the entities with which they are integrally involved and therefore to the nation as a whole,” the Chief Justice (ag) said.
The Chief Justice (ag) made the observation against the backdrop of her ruling which found that the Police Service Commission, which was appointed by President Ali close to one year after the life of the old commission had expired, was not properly constituted due to the absence of the Chairman of the Public Service Commission.
Both the lives of the Police Service Commission and the Public Service Commissioned expired in 2021, however, while the Police Service Commission was “reconstituted” by President Ali, it is unclear when the Public Service Commission will be reconstituted.
The Constitution requires that the Chairman of the Public Service Commission be appointed to the Police Service Commission, and only then would the latter be properly constituted with its four other members.