Clint Chan Tack
ATTORNEY General Faris Al-Rawi on Sunday said he fully supports the Prime Minister’s position that issues surrounding the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the appointment of a commissioner of police (CoP) will be settled by the court.
Al-Rawi also rejected calls from the Opposition UNC for him to resign over this matter and the collapse of the PSC, after the resignation of two of its members Courtney McNish and Dr Susan Craig-James last week.
Referring to statements made by Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein during a news conference earlier in the day, Al-Rawi said he squarely rejected Hosein’s reiteration of the UNC’s claim that the legal order to appoint a CoP was unconstitutional.
“There is a construction claim before the courts.”
He said Justice Nadia Kangaloo received this claim from social activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj’s attorneys, former attorney general Anand Ramlogan SC and (Opposition Senator) Jayanti Lutchmedial.
Al-Rawi said Ramlogan and Lutchmedial have approached the court and have specifically said that the process for the appointment of a CoP, undertaken by the PSC and the Office of the President, is incomplete in light of the Constitution and invalid.
Al-Rawi said it is material to note that in the written material before the court, neither Ramlogan nor Lutchmedial are arguing that Legal Notice 183 of 2021, which sets out the CoP appointment process, is either unconstitutional or invalid.
“They do not do that.”
He said this was different from another matter when Ramlogan previously went to court to argue that a 2015 order to appoint a CoP was unconstitutional and invalid.
“The judge in that case, did not agree that the order was invalid, but the judge did make certain amendments to the law.”
Al-Rawi said people are confusing these two matters.
“There is no claim before the court advanced by Ramlogan and Lutchmedial and Ravi Maharaj, to ask for any condemnation of the Legal Notice 183 of 2021.”
Al-Rawi said, “What is before the court, is properly before the court.”
He continued, “In a construction summons or a construction claim, just like the sabbatical matter (involving Chief Justice Ivor Archie) if I draw an example, the courts are there to decide upon what is the proper process.
“There are competing legal views on what that the process should be.”
Al-Rawi said when one examines Maharaj’s affidavit, and other documents before the court, “You will see it set out in black and white in the court – evidence that the PSC under the hand of the Director of Personnel Administration (DPA) wrote to (attorney) Mr Dave Persad, saying that they did not agree that the process was wrong.”
Al-Rawi added, “I am told that was settled by Mr Russell Martineau SC.”
He said there is also a letter from legal services adviser at the Office of the President, Nancy Arneaud to attorney Vishal Siewsaran of Freedom Law Chambers “which also said that the President’s Office does not consider that the process was wrong.”
He reiterated this shows “there are competing views as to what the law is.”
Al-Rawi said his ministry received advice before going to Parliament, and then drafted Legal Notice 183.
“A full brief was provided in relation to all the opinions. The matter went to the Cabinet. The Cabinet approved the orders. The orders went to the Parliament. The orders were upheld on a motion to negative, and the role of the Government ended there.”
With the AG being named as the defendant in Maharaj’s construction claim, Al-Rawi said he is “the representative of the Office of the President.”
He said the PSC and former CoP Gary Griffith are interested parties in this matter “so named by order of the court.
“I have received directions in writing from the President, whose decision is under challenge, that I am to advance issues before the court.”
He said this has been relayed to his legal team, led by Douglas Mendes SC and will receive advice.
Al-Rawi said, as articulated by Dr Rowley at a news conference at the Diplomatic Centre on Thursday last week, the Government wishes to have this matter resolved quickly.
“The actions are actions taken by the PSC and the Office of the President. Our role ended when the order was published.”
Al-Rawi said this was not the first time the UNC has called for his resignation, nor will it be the last time.
“This is democracy at work. They (UNC) are entitled to advance their positions. I recall one occasion he (Hosein) called for my resignation in relation to a pair of shoes that I was wearing.”
He said Legal Notice 183 has not been challenged either in or out of court by the UNC. “They can’t come now and re-invent their written case.”
Asked if there was need for a legislative solution for the appointment of a CoP, Al-Rawi said, “I stand by and support the Prime Minister’s views on matters. The Prime Minister is the head of this Cabinet and leader of this government.” He added, “I am discharging very carefully all of the things that the Government has said via the Prime Minister’s Office.
“I am absolutely confident that our institutions can manage this.”