The saga involving the selection of the top cop selection process has taken a new twist with the Opposition now seeking to remove President Paula-Mae Weekes.
At a press conference yesterday, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced that on Thursday she and her 18 elected members filed a motion in Parliament seeking to establish a tribunal to remove the President.
Noting that this is unprecedented in the history of the country, she said the motion is warranted because the President failed to carry out her constitutional duties.
The motion was filed pursuant to Section 36 of the Constitution on three grounds.
She said, “We are saying that the Office of the President has behaved in such a way to bring the Office into hatred, ridicule or contempt by interfering or facilitating interference with the Police Service Commission and by proceeding in the circumstances appoint new members of that Commission.
Also, she added the President’s conduct endangered the security of the state and has failed to neglected to execute her constitutional duties.
The Opposition leader said the House Speaker now has to convene a joint sitting of the Parliament for the motion to be debated, if the motion is passed then a Tribunal is set up to investigate, then their report will be sent back to the Parliament to consider the findings and decide whether or not to remove the President.
Admitting that her motion may not get the required support, she said, “Some might tell me, Kamla you know they outweigh you, they have the numbers, you going to lose. But I think in the interest, and in the public interest we must have accountability and we raise the questions and they will have to provide answers in Parliament. Who went to the President’s House for example? When in the dead of the night. When?”
There have been many calls in the public for the President to reveal the identity of the public officials who met with her at the President House and resulted in her not submitting the names of the candidates selected by the Public Service Commission for the Commissioner of Police post.
Persad-Bissessar said that there has been a breach of the separation of powers in terms of the actions and conduct of the highest officer holders, including the President.
The Opposition Leader also expressed shock and disappointment that the court revisited its order in Thursday’s ruling after the Attorney General threatened to appeal and without hearing the claimant Ravi Balgobin Maharaj and his attorneys.
The court ruled that the selection process of the commissioner of police and acting commissioner of police was unconstitutional, and had struck out Legal Notice186 of 2021.
However, later that night the court amended its order and instead struck out Paragraph 4.
Disagreeing with the Attorney General that it was a minor amendment, she said it was a clear violation of the right to due process and natural justice.
She said, “If the learned judge considered it sufficiently urgent to change her order, a phone call would have sufficed, to one of the attorneys for Mr Maharaj and indicate we’re looking at this order to revise it give me your submission. It is very unfortunate this was not done. Amending the order in the dead of night after the AG issued his press release which threatened to file an appeal would create the impression that the court capitulated to his demands on a case of such great political sensitivity.”
However, the Opposition Leader noted that Paragraph 4 states that a contract person cannot be appointed in the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner positions.
While Jacob went through the proper constitutional process to be given the post, she said he was later given a contract.
“You have now removed any contract officer from being able to act in the post so Mr Jacob sorry I’m told you are on contract too. Jacob get slap up on two times,” she said.
Responding to National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds that Jacob would continue to head the Police Service, she said he could no longer hold the DCP post because of the order.
Claiming that the two other DCPs positions are also invalidated because their notifications never came to Parliament and were never approved by Parliament, she said now there is no one in the police hierarchy.
Persad-Bissessar said it’s frightening given the state of the crime in the country.