In the face of adamance from the chairman of the Police Service Commission Nizam Mohammed about resigning, despite overwhelming calls for him to do so, questions continue to surround the role of President George Maxwell Richards and the authority vested in him to revoke Mohammed's appointment. The existing law as amended by the Constitution (Amendment) Act 2006 gives the President the power (after consulting with both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition) to "terminate the appointment" of any member of the Police Service Commission (PSC) if he "fails to perform his duties in a responsible or timely manner" or "misbehaves in office" amongst a host of other citations which range from a criminal conviction to a physical or mental incapacity, as well as an incompetence in his ability to exercise his duties effectively.
According to the provisions, the membership of the commission "shall consist of a chairman and four other members" who are "qualified and experienced in the disciplines of law, finance, sociology or management."
These commissioners are Jacqueline Cheesman, Martin George, Addison Khan and Kenneth Parker, all of whom were present exactly one week ago when their chairman (Mohammed), at a Joint Select Committee (JSC) sitting in Parliament, cited an imbalance in the ethnic composition of high-ranking officers within the T&T Police Service. This JSC meeting, held to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the PSC, sparked a nationwide controversy in light of Mohammed's disclosure, with condemnation coming from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bisssessar and Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, who both met with President Richards on the issue in separate meetings held on Tuesday.
A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister on Monday said Mohammed "must be held accountable" for his comments which were described as "reckless and senseless" and as serving "no useful purpose other than to undermine the trust that is reposed in him as the chairman of the Police Service Commission." Rowley, too, said that Mohammed had "acted irresponsibly" and has since called for "the President to intervene and remove him from office under Section 122a of the Constitution." If these sentiments marry the opinion of President Richards, in that the chairman, by his statements, conducted himself either irresponsibly, mischievously or incompetently whilst in office, then the revocation of the appointment can be expected to follow. Under the Constitution, the commission -apart from appointing persons to hold or act in the office of Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Police- is charged with the crucial responsibility of making appointments on promotions and hearing and determining appeals on disciplinary proceedings brought against a police officer within the service.
Section 122A of the Constitution (Amendment) Act 2006 states:
(1) The President shall, after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, terminate the appointment of a member of the Police Service Commission, if the member:
(a) fails to attend four consecutive meetings without reasonable cause;
(b) is convicted of a criminal offence in any court;
(c) becomes infirm in mind or body;
(d) fails to perform his duties in a responsible or timely manner;
(e) fails to absent himself from meetings of the Police Service Commission where there is a conflict of interest;
(f) demonstrates a lack of competence to perform his duties; or
(g) misbehaves in office.