Acting Chief Justice Roxane George, SC, has set July 20 to hear oral arguments in the Fixed Date Application (FDA) filed by Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Christopher Jones, who is challenging the appointment of Clifton Hicken as the Police Commissioner (ag).
During a virtual hearing on Friday, the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall – a respondent in the matter - requested to file an affidavit to deal with recent correspondence between the Opposition Leader and President and the doctrine of necessity.
However, Jones’s lawyer, Roysdale Forde, SC, objected to the AG’s request claiming that it is not relevant at this time.
Nandlall pressed on to file the affidavit, which the CJ allowed him to do on or before July 11 and pay Jones $50,000 in costs.
Back in March, President Ali, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, appointed Hicken as acting Police Commissioner after Nigel Hoppie, who was also acting as Top Cop, proceeded on pre-retirement leave.
Following the announcement, the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) - the leading party in the APNU/AFC camp, dubbed it “illegal and unconstitutional,” as they believed that Deputy Commissioner of Police Paul Williams was overlooked for the post.
Jones is seeking several declarations and among them is that the doctrine of necessity used to appoint Hicken is unreasonable, beyond the power of the Constitution, and is illegal, null, void, and of no legal effect.
He contends that the appointment violates Article 211(1) and (2) of the Constitution as they were not even consultations with the Opposition Leader.
Article 211(1) of the Constitution states the power to make appointments to any offices in the Police Force above the rank of Inspector or to remove such persons from office vest in the Police Service Commission (PSC).
On the other hand, Article 211(2) states, “The Police Service Commission may, by directions in writing and subject to such conditions as it thinks fit, delegate any of its powers under the preceding paragraph to any one or more members of the Commission or to the Commissioner of Police or, in the case of the power to exercise disciplinary control, to any other member of the Police Force.”
However, the Attorney General had defended the appointment, arguing that with no Opposition Leader in place nor a PSC, there was no one for the Head of State to consult.
Apart from quashing Hicken’s appointment, Jones seeks to have all actions taken by the Top Cop since assuming office be null and void and to be of no effect.
The applicant is also asking the Court to grant an Order directing Hicken to produce his authority to exercise or discharge the functions of the office of Commissioner of Police.