Senior Counsel Martin Daly is calling on both President Paula-Mae Weekes and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to justify an alleged meeting with former Police Service Commission (PolSC) chairman Bliss Seepersad.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was asked by members of the media on the weekend, whether he met with Seepersad at the Office of the President on August 12 and did not answer the question directly.
Instead, he said that he carried out his duty.
Daly, in his statement yesterday, said that Section 81 of the Constitution does oblige the Prime Minister “to keep the President of the Republic fully informed concerning the general conduct of the government of Trinidad and Tobago” and “to provide any information she may request with respect to any particular matter relating to the government of Trinidad and Tobago”.
He added that “this duty to inform the President does not seem to provide an excuse for meeting with the then Chair of the PolSC at President’s House when the Chair was there on PolSC business”.
“Moreover, this section cannot justify the President of the Republic taking instructions in respect of the work of the PolSC if that is what happened on August 12,” he said.
“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 PolSC, 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,” Daly said.
“The seeking of refuge by reference to the duty to inform, to explain apparent interference in the work of the PolSC, increases the urgent need for the President to do the right thing,” he said.
“The office of 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,” he said.
PM, Panday, Sinanan respond
Prime Minister felt differently.
“Did you see the phrase ‘if this is what happened’?” the Prime Minister asked.
The Prime Minister said that Daly was engaging in speculation and hypotheticals.
“I speak for myself and Martin (Daly) speaks for himself,” he said.
“The difference is that I am not speculating or hypothesizing,” he said.
Fellow Senior Counsel Avory Sinanan agreed with Daly.
“I think he has encapsulated the unsatisfactory nature of the position,” Sinanan said yesterday.
He said that by sidestepping direct questions, the Prime Minister was just “avoiding the issue”.
“In terms of keeping the President informed of the general conduct of Government, I don’t think, on the assumption, that this ghost meeting took place, Section 81 in my view does not really give him an escape,” he said.
Sinanan said that Section 81 does not contemplate a tripartite meeting between the President, the Prime Minister or Government official and the chairman of an independent Commission, to discuss the work of that Commission.
“What Section 81 contemplates is a general discussion and general information to the President,” he said.
“What I am saying is you cannot invest Section 81 with a duty to keep the President informed with such measure of elasticity that it would impact on the independent Police Service Commission and you can have a tripartite meeting to deal with that,” he said.
Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday described this issue as “peripheral child play” when there were much bigger issues at play.
He once again called for an overhaul of the present Constitution, saying that only that would fix these problems.
“Without that reform, if it is not this issue, it will be something else. Total reform is the only way to fix these problems,” he said.