“I have already initiated the process of consultation and I hope we can come to a conclusion in terms of a notification within the next week or two,” Richards told Newsday at a function held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs offices at Knowsley.

The disclosure came one day after the Office of the President announced that Richards had revoked the appointment of Nizam Mohammed and, in the process, created a Constitutional vacuum regarding the constitution of the PSC.

Under Section 122 of the Constitution, there must be a chairman for the PSC — the watchdog body over the Police Service — to be properly constituted. “There is a procedure for his replacement which involves first of all, the President consulting with the Leader of the Opposition and the Honourable Prime Minister,” Richards noted. “And on the basis of this he (the President) will take a notification to Parliament who will presumably in an affirmative resolution appoint a member.”

“It is only when that happens can the President appoint a new chairman in his discretion,” Richards noted. “I frankly have no way of speeding up the Parliament in its activities. I have already initiated the process.”

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday remained on official business in the United States of America. Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley did not answer calls from Newsday.

Mohammed’s appointment was revoked amid raging controversy over statements he made alluding to a statistical racial imbalance within the Police Service.

Under Section 122 of the Constitution, the President appoints a new chairman at his discretion from among the five members of the commission. In the wake of Mohammed’s removal, there are currently four members. For a new member to be appointed, a notification to this effect–dispatched by the President–must be approved by MPs in the House of Representatives.

In the face of a call from Mohammed for the President to give the details of the reasons for his removal, the President yesterday steered clear of being drawn into details. For now.

Questioned by Newsday, the President said, “No I don’t think we will be taking interviews on that issue at the present time. I am very sorry. No, not on this issue. Maybe in due course we will say something on that.”

Richard’s silence on the matter comes as Mohammed’s legal team continues to examine the option of mounting a case against the President for his revocation of Mohammed’s appointment. With a possible legal suit looming, it also emerged that the President’s adviser on the Nizam Mohammed affair was senior counsel Reginald Armour.

Newsday understands that notwithstanding Section 38 of the Constitution, which grants the President immunity from legal suit, lawyers are looking at building on jurisprudence in which courts have been inclined to “work around” the ouster clause protecting the President from suit.

“The ouster clause only operates if the President performs his functions with what is set out in the Constitution. But in some cases you could argue that if the President has gone beyond what his functions are in the Constitution and simply caved in to popular pressure without an appropriate lawful basis for his actions, then that is not protected by the ouster clause,” a legal expert argued.

Another expert, not wanting to be named for fear of becoming embroiled in controversy, said, “If a President were to do something manifestly irrational, even if it involved the exercise of a discretion and power given to him by way of the Constitution, that would still be challengeable in court.”

Senior Counsel Israel Khan yesterday argued that the President is under no obligation to give reasons for the revocation of Mohammed’s appointment. “The President does not have to give Nizam Mohammed any reasons for revoking his appointment and the country must have implicit trust in the integrity of the President,” Khan argued. “It is obvious as to why the action was taken,” he claimed.

The official release from the Office of the President, published on Monday, did not explicitly say whether Mohammed was fired for comments about a racial imbalance in the Police Service about two weeks ago. Instead, it cited provisions of the Constitution which allow for the revocation of the PSC chairman’s appointment due to “a lack of competence” and failure “to perform...duties in a responsible manner.”

Lawyers yesterday noted that another incident involving Mohammed, such as a controversial encounter he had with two police constables at Independence Square, Port-of-Spain, last year, could even fall under the sections of the Constitution cited by the President.

Contacted yesterday over the issue, Armour confirmed that he acted as the President’s legal adviser in the matter. However he declined to comment further.

“The President does seek my advice from time to time,” Armour said. Questioned further, the silk said, “I have been advising the President on the Nizam Mohammed matter and I do not think I am at liberty to discuss the merits or merits of any action taken by the President. I have no further comment to make.”



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