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Norton was given a fair chance to partake – AG on challenge to Police Service, Integrity Commissions

L-R: Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton and Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall on Monday said that Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton was given a fair and ample opportunity to participate in appointing the Chairmanship and members of the Police Service and Integrity Commissions.

The AG made this assertion while presenting arguments in the challenge to the President’s appointments of the Chairmanship and members of the Police Service and Integrity Commissions.

Last month, Norton moved to the High Court seeking to have the appointments of the Chairmanship, and members of the Police Service and Integrity Commissions quashed on the ground that President Irfaan Ali violated Article 211 (1) of the Constitution.

Article 211 (1) states that the “the Commissioner of Police and every Deputy Commissioner of Police shall be appointed by the President acting after meaningful consultation with the Leader of the Opposition and Chairperson of the Police Service Commission after the Chairperson has consulted with the other members of the Commission.”

However, the AG contended that the Opposition Leader is a part of the National Assembly’s Committee on Appointments, ascribed with the search and selection of nominees for the PSC.

“So, long before the names came to the President, at least theoretically, the Leader of the Opposition had a hand in the selection of the four names,” Nandlall noted.

On May 13, the Head of State and Norton met for consultation regarding several appointments of constitutional bodies.

The Opposition Leader requested the Curriculum Vitaes (CVs) of the persons put forward for the various agencies, which Nandlall said was provided on May 16.

Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Gail Teixeira, on May 27, invited Norton to continue the consultation on May 30 and asked that if he cannot attend, he should send his additional contributions in writing.

In light of this, Minister Nandlall argued that Norton had between May 16 to 27 to study the CVs and even express his dissatisfaction with the nominees, but he never did.

“Consultation is not a one-way street […]. If it has to be meaningful, it must involve illogical exchanges not necessarily orally but in writing from both sides […]. One side cannot throw back and assume that the other side would know what they want.”

The AG added, “Mr. Norton has not pointed to anything whatsoever that prejudice his ability to ask for more information to offer a nominee of his own or to denounce the President.”

On the other hand, Norton’s lawyer, Roysdale Forde, SC, advanced that it is the President’s responsibility to indicate the criteria that would be used in arriving at a final decision.

“The letter of Ms. Teixeira told Mr. Norton that if you have any additional contributions to make, make. So, at that time, there was nothing in the letter of the President that would foreshadow that this was the termination of the process of consultation,” Forde contended.

Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George will render her ruling in the matter on August 23 at 15:00h.


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