Hearing of appeal for no-confidence motion cases commences
…PPP lawyer points to waste of taxpayers’ money for Govt’s legal team
As the cases regarding the appeal for the no-confidence motion were brought up for hearing on Monday at the Court of Appeal, a battery of lawyers representing the Government regurgitated arguments used in the High Court matter that saw the acting Chief Justice Roxane George ruling against them.
Attorney General Basil Williams, along with former Attorney General of Grenada and now Senior Lecturer at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill, Barbados, Dr Francis Raphael Alexis, took the lead in making oral submissions to the court on behalf of Government.
During his arguments, Dr Alexis maintained that the vote regarding the no-confidence motion was not properly taken, while putting to the court that there is a stark difference between a vote of confidence and a vote of no confidence.
“All of these are very weighty issues and Guyana is opening the eyes of the world, certainly the Commonwealth as to what issues can arise when a young country like Guyana is charting its own way constitutionally. This is one for the law reports to teach the rest of the world,” he told media operatives.
Williams believes that the Government team’s oral submissions were good, explaining that he was able to get over the point that the entire Constitution should be looked at and not just Article 106 (7) in isolation.
He said, “As I argued today (Monday) how you construed the Constitution and the importance of looking at everything in a whole. And the court has a duty where there is inconsistency and absurdity to use a purposive approach to construction and arrive at a construction that would not lead to chaos and dire consequences.”
Meanwhile, lead attorney representing the Opposition, Anil Nandlall said the constitutional provisions under review are very clear.
“The ruling of the Chief Justice was only an interpretation of the plain literal language of those provisions. Here you have lawyers standing up for hours and hours trying to distort the clear meaning of the language of the Constitution which we are all acquainted with,” he added.
Nandlall argued that a no-confidence motion is nothing new, because the parties comprising the coalition Government wanted to pass one in 2014, but now they were arguing that a no-confidence motion was not provided for in the Constitution.
“They were planning to use 33 votes to win the no-confidence motion in 2014, now you hearing that 33 votes can’t win a no-confidence vote anymore … they were planning to win the no-confidence motion in 2018 had Charrandas Persaud not voted the way he voted, now you’re hearing 32 votes can’t win.”
He believes that it’s all lawyers playing with words and it’s all a political strategy.
Nandlall used the opportunity to declare that Government was wasting taxpayers’ money by hiring more lawyers, referring to Dr Alexis.
“Look at the amount of money they are spending on an exercise which in my mind is futile. We now have a distinguished lawyer from Grenada brought here and it is costing the taxpayers,” Nandlall said.
He pointed out that Dr Alexis’s submissions were based on the whole argument that 34 is not a majority of the 65-seat National Assembly of Guyana. “That was said in the High Court a million times,” he added.
“We are careening into a state of crisis and the Government is unconcerned and all they are doing is trying to find devices, mechanisms and methods to try to justify their position or delay elections.”
In a Notice of Appeal filed, the Government said that the acting Chief Justice erred and misdirected herself in law, when she ruled that the National Assembly of Guyana properly, validly and lawfully passed a motion on a vote of confidence provided for by Article 106 (6) of the Constitution by 33 votes and that the Government was defeated.
The Attorney General further contends that the CJ erred and misdirected herself in law, when she ruled that the passage of the motion of no confidence provided for by Article 106 (6) of the Constitution by the National Assembly on December 21, 2018, requires the immediate resignation of the President and Cabinet.
Presiding over the cases are acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Justices of Appeal Rishi Persaud and Dawn Gregory.
The matter continues today when Nandlall and others representing the Opposition and Christopher Ram will make their oral submissions.