GECOM Chair declines to make new submissions to CCJ
…previous submissions stand
Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh will not be making any new submissions concerning the upcoming hearing before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
This was revealed in a letter that was written on Justice Claudette Singh’s behalf by her attorney-at-law. In the letter, the CCJ was informed that after considering the issue, the Chair does not wish to actively participate in the appeal.
According to the letter, they will not be making any submissions. The Chair’s reason for declining to make new submissions in the case is not clear. Efforts by this publication to contact Singh’s Attorney-at-Law Kim Kyte, were futile.
“On further consideration, we do not wish to actively participate in the Appeal. In the circumstances, we do not wish to make any submissions,” the letter, which was addressed to the Registrar of the CCJ and Attorney-at-Law Devindra Kissoon, said.
In a post on social media, however, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall sought to provide clarity on the issue. According to Nandlall, who represents the applicants in the matter, the GECOM Chair has not withdrawn from the matter. Rather, he noted that she will rely on her previous submission which is on record and render additional submissions unnecessary.
“The Chair has not withdrawn from the appeal,” the former Attorney General said in his post. “She will make no submissions. None (are) necessary. Her previous submissions are on record. No harm done.”
When APNU/AFC supporter Eslyn David had approached the Court of Appeal to block the declaration of results, Singh had submitted an affidavit. In her affidavit, she had urged the court to throw out David’s motion, noting that questions regarding the elections must be ventilated in an election petition.
Singh, in her affidavit, had argued that Article 177 (4) of the Constitution of Guyana, under which David’s application was filed, clothes the Court of Appeal with a “narrow special exclusive jurisdiction” to hear and determine any question as to the validity of an election of a President in so far as that question turns upon the qualification of any person for election or the interpretation of this Constitution.
Article 177 (4) states: The Court of Appeal shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine any question as to the validity of an election of a President in so far as that question depends upon the qualification of any person for election or the interpretation of this Constitution; and any decision of that Court under this paragraph shall be final.
“The Court of Appeal is therefore not vested with original jurisdiction to hear questions on the interpretation of the Constitution outside of this narrow special jurisdiction. It is the High Court which is so vested… Further, when one reads the entire Article 177, the Article contemplates a person already declared by GECOM as President. It is respectfully submitted that the electoral process has not reached this stage. In any event, the Order sought… [in] the Notice of Motion amounts to the interpretation of an Order and not the Constitution,” Kyte, on behalf of the GECOM Chair, had contended in her submission.
It is the appeal of the Court of Appeal’s subsequent decision that more votes as set out in the Constitution mean more valid votes, that is being heard at the CCJ. The applicants in the case are PPP/C Presidential Candidate, Dr Irfaan Ali and PPP General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo.
According to the Notice of Application (NOA), filed on their behalf by Trinidad-based Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes, the applicants are seeking leave to appeal the Court of Appeal decision, requesting that the matter be urgently heard and that the application be treated as the hearing of the appeal.
The CCJ had obliged to the appeal, setting July 1 for the hearing of the appeal, with a case management conference held on Thursday, June 25. Further, the CCJ had granted an order that maintains the status quo and injuncts GECOM until further notice.