CCJ sets June 18 as ‘tentative’ date for ruling on No-Confidence cases
-ruling in GECOM unilateral appointment case also expected
-as lawyer responds to adduced Charrandas Persaud evidence
After some delay, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has finally set a date, albeit a tentative one, for ruling on the three No-Confidence Motion related cases before it, as well as the challenge to the unilateral appointment of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman.
This is according to notices sent out by the court to the parties involved in the proceedings, as well as information from various lawyers involved in the cases. In a brief interview, Attorney for former Alliance For Change (AFC) Parliamentarian Charandass Persaud, Sanjeev Datadin informed this publication that the CCJ intends to rule on the consolidated NCM cases on June 18.
When contacted by this publication, Attorney General Basil Williams also revealed that the CCJ is looking to rule in the GECOM case on June 18. The AG also confirmed that the court has accepted the new evidence he submitted in relation to Charandass Persaud.
The “new evidence” has to do with comments made by the former AFC MP Charrandas Persaud during a recent Globespan live show, which Government is alleging purports to show he knew that as a dual citizen he ought not to be in the parliamentary chambers.
Persaud had crossed over to vote in favour of the Opposition’s No-Confidence Motion against the coalition Government. The application was filed on the grounds that, among other things, there was no direct evidence of whether Persaud knew that he was unqualified to be a candidate and disqualified from sitting in the National Assembly.
However, Datadin has since submitted a response on behalf of his client, in which it is argued that this new evidence does not reflect the full context of what Persaud actually said on the Globespan show. The affidavit filed by Datadin carried the full transcript.
In the full transcript, Persaud recounts a conversation he had with Minister of Public Security and AFC politician Khemraj Ramjattan, in which the Minister himself sought to allay Persaud’s concerns about his dual citizen status by pointing out that other persons in Parliament held passports from other countries.
As it turns out, at least four politicians have since resigned from Parliament due to them also holding dual citizenship at the time Persaud crossed the floor. They are Dominic Gaskin (former Minister of Business), Carl Greenidge (former Foreign Affairs Minister), Dr Rupert Roopnaraine (former Public Service Minister) and Joseph Harmon (former Minister of State).
Following the December 21, 2018, passage of the No-Confidence Motion against the Government, the coalition Government challenged the validity of the motion and after failing to get the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland, to reverse it, Government approached the High Court.
However, acting Chief Justice Roxanne George in January upheld the passage of the motion, ruling that it was validly passed with the 33 majority. This decision was then appealed by Government at the Appeal Court, which in March ruled via a 2-1 majority that an absolute majority of 34 votes was needed to successfully pass the motion.
As a last resort, the CCJ was asked to finally determine these matters, with the cases being heard. The three No-Confidence Motion cases deal with Christopher Ram v the Attorney General of Guyana, the Leader of the Opposition and Joseph Harmon; Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo v the Attorney General of Guyana, Dr Barton Scotland and Joseph Harmon; and Charrandas Persaud v Compton Herbert Reid, Dr Barton Scotland, Bharrat Jagdeo and Joseph Harmon; the last of which deals with Persaud’s eligibility to vote in the House.
Meanwhile, the unilateral appointment case the CCJ heard on May 8 was brought by the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) Executive Secretary Zulfikar Mustapha, challenging the appointment of current GECOM Chairman, retired Justice James Patterson.
Patterson was appointed to the position of Chairman of GECOM in 2017 after President Granger had rejected three lists comprising 18 names submitted by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo for the post of GECOM Chairman.
Last year, Chief Justice (acting) Roxanne George had ruled that the Constitution of Guyana, in fact, allows for the President to unilaterally appoint someone to fill the position of Chairman of GECOM.