Anil Nandlall, Timothy Jonas to be appointed Senior Counsel
Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall and A New and United Guyana (ANUG) Chairman Timothy Jonas will be appointed to the position of Senior Counsel in Guyana.
This decision was made by President Irfaan Ali after consultations with acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Yonette Cummings-Edwards. According to the Office of the President in a statement on Wednesday, the appointments will be effective from Friday, October 30, 2020.
It was noted that Nandlall and Jonas were selected to be conferred with silk “…due to their demonstrable knowledge of and learning in the law and on account of their exemplary erudition and diligence in the practice of the law and by virtue of their distinguished contributions to the growth and development of Guyana’s jurisprudence and constitutional democracy”.
Both Nandlall and Jonas were on the forefront of the fight following the March 2 General and Regional Elections when there were blatant attempts to undermine democracy in Guyana.
Nandlall, who had previously served as Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister under the last People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration from 2011 to 2015, was among the leading legal minds guiding the Party during that tumultuous period.
In fact, it was Nandlall who obtained the court order to block embattled Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo from moving ahead with the fraudulent declaration made on March 5.
A national recount exercise subsequently conducted found that Mingo had heavily inflated the figures in favour of the then incumbent A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition. However, the recount exercise showed that the PPP/C won the elections by some 15,416 votes.
Both Nandlall and Jonas were instrumental in representing the interests of their respective parties during the national recount.
Meanwhile, Jonas had represented Josh Kanhai of The New Movement (TNM) – one of the small political parties – in the series of post-election litigation that was filed.
Jonas’ silk conferral comes over a year after his Senior Counsel appointment was withdrawn by then President David Granger shortly after he announced his affiliation with ANUG – a new political party that was formed to contest the March 2 elections.
According to reports, Attorney Jonas was informed by Chancellor Cummings-Edwards in late 2018 that he was approved by the Judges to be conferred with silk and would be recommended to the Executive.
Then on December 24, 2018, Jonas was contacted by Chief of Protocol at the then Ministry of the Presidency, Vic Persaud, informing him that he was reportedly being appointed Senior Counsel and that in the coming days he would receive his documentation and invitation to the ceremony.
However, less than a week after it was announced that he was among the Executives of the new political party, Jonas received another call from Persaud indicating that the executive had reconsidered his Senior Counsel appointment. A list, exempting Jonas, was then published naming five new SCs: Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack along with Attorneys Stephen Fraser, Carole James-Boston, Robert Ramcharran, and Rajendra Poonai.
Jonas had described the move as “vindictive politics”, noting that actions such as this have “tarnished the whole image of silk”.
“One would expect that kind of vindictive politics in Guyana’s arenas. One regret for me is that as is so often the case, this was political manipulation which corrupts the process. The value of the process itself is undermined in this case, because this exposure has tarnished the whole image of Silk. People who are very deserving like (Attorney-at-Law) Steven Fraser are caught up in a mudslide,” he had stated.
The AFC faction of the then coalition Government had distanced itself from the issue while then Attorney General Basil Williams, who himself was appointed as Senior Counsel by President Granger, had contended that Jonas was never considered for the post.
Legal proceedings against President’s authority
Nevertheless, Jonas in July filed legal proceedings, seeking a judicial review of caretaker President Granger’s appointment of four Senior Counsels back in December 2019.
According to Jonas, “There is no statutory or other power conferred on the President of Guyana whether as President or otherwise to make such a decision or to appoint Attorneys-at-Law to the dignity of Senior Counsel, and the decision by the President…is entirely void and of no effect.”
Jonas went on to say that in so far as the President, a member of the Executive, purports to make a decision within the province of the inherent discretion of the High Court, “his trespass into the realm of the Judiciary violates Article 122 of the Constitution of Guyana, and is illegal and void”. (G8)