The derisive attack launched against Deputy Solicitor General Prithima Kissoon by Attorney General Basil Williams has caught the attention of Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, who pledged to look into the matter.
Harmon told Guyana Times on Monday that he would be reviewing the official complaint filed by Kissoon with the aim of making suggestions for a possible resolution.
“As a public officer, I would have to take certain steps based on her complaint. I have to read it; I have to see what it is she is saying and make certain recommendations,” he explained after declining to offer a commentary on the ongoing conflict between the AG and his Deputy Solicitor General.
This latest scandal originated from the dismissal of a State-sponsored appeal which led to the quashing of the case against former President Bharrat Jagdeo.
Williams had blamed the Deputy Solicitor General for this outcome by publicly ridiculing her.
But Kissoon was at her wits’ end with the abuse meted out by the Attorney General and has since filed a complaint to the Public Service Commission (PSC).
However, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) – the Opposition political force that has been lending its voice to victims of discrimination meted out by the Government – has condemned in the strongest possible terms the assault against the Deputy Solicitor General.
The PPP observed that this was just another in the continuous onslaught on young, professional Guyanese who were using their education, skills and technical expertise in serving that State.
The Party also called out the Attorney General for failing to respond directly to the concerns expressed by the Deputy Solicitor General, most shocking among them his uncooperativeness and his orders, which ultimately restrain her from effectively executing her duties.
“Rather than respond intelligently to the very detailed information provided by Ms Kissoon of his dereliction of duty and extravagant ineptitude; he proceeds to embark upon another tirade further besmirching this young professional’s competence and reputation by attributing to her a political motive contending that she compromises cases for the PPP,” the Party stated.
It added that the AG’s blame game is another demonstration of his “legendary incompetence”.
“Yesterday, he blamed the court for losing cases; today, he blames Ms Kissoon. The nation will soon witness that he will quickly run out of persons to blame and his manifest incapacities and inadequacies will be laid bare for the world to see,” the Party stated.
Regarding the case against Jagdeo case, Kissoon explained that the AG failed to give instructions or examine documents prepared by her prior to being filed or presented to the court.
“The Attorney General, Mr Basil Williams, has failed to approve or sign written submissions prepared by me or examine pleadings despite those documents being sent to him via email or being given to his Confidential Secretary, Ms Demi Hipplewith, Ms Andrea Marks and other assistants he has retained over the past year,” she detailed in her complaint.
She claimed that the AG instructed his assistants to refuse to accept any documents or correspondence from her.
Pertaining to the legal proceedings, Kissoon said the AG was reluctant to file an Affidavit in Answer as required in the matter.
“This was not done even though I diligently prepared a draft Affidavit and presented same to him; he did not see it fit to peruse or discuss or give me instructions on same. I have records to show my notification and reminders to him,” she stated.
Additionally, she said the AG appeared in court while she was on sick leave and applied to the court for leave to file further submissions, which he did not do.
Kissoon explained that on the date of the ruling, he did not appear in court but her subordinate did for the first time to take the decision, which was duly made by the court dismissing the appeal.
Thereafter, upon her return to work, Kissoon said the AG ordered that she cease all conduct of court cases involving the AG Chambers until further notice.
Meanwhile, in another section of the media Solicitor General, Sita Ramlal in a letter to the editor pointed out that Williams had insisted to Kissoon and herself, that he be named as the plaintiff in the appeal when he was not a party.
“I did not prepare nor approve the Appeal in this matter. The Deputy Solicitor General Ms Prithima Kissoon at all material times and at all stages had conduct of the matter and she was aware that an Appeal was being prepared. When the Appeal was to be filed Ms Kissoon could not be found to affix her signature to same. The pleadings were brought to me for signature, whereupon I declined to sign same. I then went to the Honourable Attorney General and advised that he could not be a party to the action for the very same reasons…but the Honourable Attorney General was adamant and instructed me to sign and file the Appeal. This was done,” Ramlall stated.
She also noted that she again took the issue to the attention of the AG at a general staff meeting in the presence of the staff of Litigation Department including Ms Kissoon.
“After discussions Ms Kissoon agreed that she would apply for an extension of time to amend the rubric of the Appeal.”
In defence, the AG said that he could no longer sustain Kissoon’s undermining of his Chamber’s cases.
He accused her of deliberately producing errors in the Chamber’s cases so that the PPP parliamentary Opposition members could benefit.
He said in cases where President David Granger, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and the Attorney General were sued, Kissoon deliberately disobeyed the instructions of the Attorney General and Solicitor General with regard to challenging the applications on lack of jurisdiction, thereby causing the matters to be protracted.
According to AG Williams, Kissoon is attempting to cloud the facts of the situation with her complaint.
Further, Williams said he has already informed the Public Service Commission of the Chamber’s intention to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the Deputy Solicitor General.