Parking meter burden
Justice Brassington Reynolds will on Thursday determine whether or not the High Court has jurisdiction to rule on the challenge regarding the legality of the parking meter project in Georgetown.
The imminent ruling stems from Town Clerk Royston King’s application through his attorney, Roger Yearwood, which questioned the court’s jurisdiction under the revised Civil Procedures rules, which took effect February 6, 2017.
The preliminary challenge follows from the Mohendra Arjune v the Mayor, Town Clerk and City Councillors case where an order nisi of certiorari was granted to quash the decision of the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown to enter the agreement with Smart City Solutions Inc.
Defence Counsel Yearwood defended the Town Clerk at court proceedings on Tuesday morning, when the Attorney highlighted that Guyana’s court system inherited crown office rules from Britain in 1906, which state that the court has no jurisdiction over prerogative writs, saying it can only be ruled upon if an act of parliament is passed. A prerogative writ is an official order which can direct a separate arm of government or official, in this case the Mayor and City Councillors.
The plaintiff’s counsel, Kamal Ramkarran, however, contends that as the Judicial Review Act was not yet enforced, common law was still in place, further arguing that Guyana’s High Court Act gave the court the power to determine or control its procedure.
“There is a judicial review, but it is not yet enforced,” the Attorney representing Arjune noted.
Ramkarran later explained that substantive law must exist in spite of the procedure, adding that through this type of law, if the City Council executes acts outside of its power, the court can set aside those decisions. Ramkarran argues that the court has the power to look into the legality of decisions of the City Council, noting that the court has the power to “correct injustices” – the injustice in this case being the way in which the parking meter project was implemented. It was only on Monday that Justice Reynolds had refused a request to issue a temporary order which would have disallowed the Mexican company, Smart City Solutions Inc (SCSI) from continuing the parking meter system in the capital. However, the Judge indicated that he needed to be fully familiar with the case. It was on February 16 that the court temporarily halted the project, but parking meter operatives continue to boot motor vehicles.
The order, granted by acting Chief Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, had prohibited the respondents from making “any amendments thereto for the establishment of parking meters in Georgetown with SCSI and all acts and things thereafter which flowed from that decision”.
It had revoked “the decision of the Mayor and Councillors and anyone acting by or through them or under their directions or instructions or on their behalf to exempt persons or categories of persons from paying fees for parking in the City of Georgetown and being subject to penalties for parking in Georgetown”.
Legal minds had noted that if the city continued to boot vehicles, this would be contempt of court. However, Yearwood, as Attorney for the City Council, argues that the City Council must not be given less than 30 days prior to the instituting of proceedings. Nevertheless, a protest against the project, organised by the Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM) continues this week.