Recent reference has been made to the Prime Minister’s constitutional duty to keep the President of the Republic informed of the state of affairs in Trinidad and Tobago in purported answer to public concern about an alleged meeting between an unnamed public official and the then Chair of the Police Service Commission (the PolSC) at President’s House on 12 August 2021.
Section 81 of the Constitution obliges 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’.
With respect, 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.
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.
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.
The Office of the President ought to explain the goings-on at President’s House on 12 August 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.