VETERAN attorney Martin Daly has renewed his call on President Paula-Mae Weekes to break her silence and let the country know details surrounding an alleged meeting between a senior State official and the then chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC) at President's House on the issue of the appointment of a police commissioner.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has publicly named the Prime Minister as being the State official who met with then PSC chairman Bliss Seepersad on August 12, on the cusp of the PSC's Order of Merit List for police commissioner being submitted to the President.
While not confirming or denying this, Dr Rowley dismissed Persad-Bissessar's claims on Saturday as mischief, saying that unlike her – when she was prime minister – he operates within the constitution and is duty-bound to keep the President fully apprised of matters of state.
Daly also last week, called on Weekes to “do the right thing” and not remain silent on an alleged act of interference that not only precipitated the collapse of the PSC but also derailed the process to appoint a substantive police commissioner.
On Saturday, Rowley said: “I, unlike the last prime minister, I carry out my duty under the constitution. And that duty involves the oath of office I took and one of the things I’m required to do is to keep the President informed on the state of affairs in TT.
"So all the mischief-makers and the unmaskers and whoever else, they’re on their own with that. I keep the President informed, I keep the Cabinet informed, and I do my duty without fear or favour, malice or ill-will.
Daly revisited the issue on Monday.
“It appears to me that the President cannot, on her own initiative, take legally effective action or omit to do anything that she is required by law to do, regarding the PSC, based on information she receives from the Prime Minister unless some specific section of the Constitution or other law enables or empowers her to do so.”***
He said, “the seeking of refuge” by referring to the duty under section 81 of the Constitution, on the duty to inform the President, “to explain apparent interference in the work of the PSC increases the urgent need for the President to do the right thing.”
Daly said the Office of the President “ought to explain the goings-on at President’s House on August 12, 2021, and the basis of what Her Excellency is or is not doing with the list of candidates for the office of Police Commissioner, which a top official of the Service Commissions Department has stated on oath was in fact delivered to her.”
There is conflicting information about whether the Order of Merit List prepared by the PSC reached the President's desk on August 12.
Former PSC member Roger Kawalsingh, in leaked correspondence, claimed Seepersad told him that she withheld the list after being provided with information she could not ignore by an unnamed public official.
However, acting Director of Personnel Administration Corey Harrison has sworn on affidavit in the interpretation summons that the Order of Merit List was submitted to the President. Social activist Ravi Balgobin-Maharaj filed an interpretation summons lawsuit questioning the legality of the acting commissioner appointment of Gary Griffith after his contract as substantive police commissioner ended in August.
It was on the basis of the information provided by the as yet to be named public official, that the PSC appointed retired judge Stanley John to probe allegations based on a report commissioned by the National Security Council, of which Rowley is the chairman, on issues relating to the granting of firearm user’s licences.
Also last week, former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, called on the President to say why she failed to submit the Order of Merit list to the Parliament for approval.
He said on receiving the list, the President was constitutionally mandated, to issue a notification to the Parliament for approval.
Maharaj said section 123 makes no provision for the exercise of discretion by the President on how she treats with a list of nominees submitted to her by the PSC.
***Editor's Note: There has been no official correspondence either from President's House or The Office of the Prime Minister confirming or denying that Dr Rowley was the official who spoke with Seepersad or anyone else on the PSC issue at President's House.