United National Congress MP Saddam Hosein wants Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi’s resignation concerning Legal Notice 185 on the appointment of a Police Commissioner, but Al-Rawi says Hosein’s colleagues who have a court matter concerning the acting appointment of Gary Griffith haven’t challenged the notice.
In defending himself, Al-Rawi noted the interpretation claim by Anand Ramlogan SC, Jayanti Lutchmedial and others in Ravi Balgobin Maharaj’s matter on the acting appointment, which continues in court today.
Both the AG and Hosein sparred yesterday about Legal Notice 183 (2021), as the fallout from the Police Service’s Commission’s fiasco involving Griffith continued to be played out in the public domain.
Hosein blamed Al-Rawi for the firestorm of issues around the PSC concerning the CoP selection. He said Al-Rawi twice changed the law for the appointment of a CoP. The UNC’s Wade Mark, Hosein said, had called for an annulment of the order but a vote was taken and Government voted for it, as did Independent Senator Charisse Seepersad - the sister of PSC chairman Bliss Seepersad.
Hosein said, “The Prime Minister must demand Al-Rawi’s resignation or fire him, as he’s caused T&T to be plunged into this unprecedented constitutional crisis. This bad law casts doubt on all law the AG’s presented.”
On queries that the lawyers in Maharaj’s case hadn’t complained about the order but of the process in taking names to Parliament on the acting CoP post, Hosein said Justice Rolston Nelson SC had given a legal opinion on the issue and the Prime Minister had agreed with this and “found the AG wrong.”
But Al-Rawi yesterday said “(Maharaj’s attorneys) asked the court to interpret the Constitution to say if the acting appointment is improper, as the list (for acting nominees) didn’t come to Parliament. They haven’t challenged Legal Notice 183. They actually rely on this Notice.”
“So it’s grossly inconsistent for young Saddam, who’s Ms Lutchmedial’s colleague, to reinvent the case—they’re at odds with each other,’’ Al-Rawi told Guardian Media.
“The current claim isn’t the one that arose in 2015 when others sought to deem the Legal Notice at that time unconstitutional and illegal. In (Maharaj’s) matter now, attorneys rely on the constitutionality of the notice. I can say that issue of constitutionality of parts of the notice is in issue and will be considered by the courts.”
Al-Rawi added, “I, as defendant, represent the Office of the President in addition to giving Government’s submission. I’ve been directed in writing by the President’s Office to put certain issues before the court, which I’m obligated to. Government desires a quick resolution of the claim. I stand by the Prime Minister and Government and will address the multiple views before the courts.”
He added that the President had directed him to ask the court whether the 2009 acting appointment notice which is still in effect —where a deputy Police Commissioner acts as CoP—is ultra vires the Constitution. Al-Rawi noted the President’s letter disagreeing with proposals by attorney Dave Persad and the PSC’s letter, where they received advice from Russel Martineau SC, who said the process was correct.
“When the Prime Minister said he has confidence in the judiciary, I too have confidence in the judiciary, it will interpret what’s in issue,” the Ag said.
He said Legal Notice 183 went through a process: it was drafted by Douglas Mendes SC, a brief was done on that matter where all advice was considered, Cabinet considered the legal notice and it was taken to Parliament.
“Nowhere in the Parliament did the Opposition challenge the constitutionality of this order in the manner Hosein’s doing now,” Al-Rawi said.
“I have not and never will advise the PSC. Nobody in Government would. This isn’t the first time the Opposition has called for my resignation—but the matter is to be dealt with on the facts.”