Lawyer seeks parliamentary sitting postponement at CCJ hearing
No-confidence motion cases
…AG says Appeal Court ruling means “business as usual”
With the National Assembly scheduled to meet on Friday, legal counsel for former Alliance for Change (AFC) parliamentarian Charrandas Persaud has warned that he will file legal action to bar the holding of the parliamentary sitting if the sitting is not postponed.
This was announced during a pre-trial hearing at the Caribbean Court of Justice on Wednesday in the case of Christopher Ram vs the Attorney General and Opposition. This is one of three no-confidence motion related cases that will be heard by the CCJ next month.
Issuing this warning was Attorney-at-Law Sanjeev Datadin, who is Charrandas Persaud’s legal representative.
“We’ve learnt from the press that there’s a sitting of Parliament on [Friday]. And the schedule is to pass legislation related to finance and more importantly, to pass legislation for the oil and gas sector.”
“Now having regard for what is before the courts and what are the implications, one way or another, of the vote of December 21, it’s our respectful submission that that should be refrained from. We’ve not made a specific application to the court because we intended to raise it with the court and solicit from the Attorney General an undertaking.”
Datadin warned, however, that if the sitting is not postponed then he will file a formal application to force the postponement. CCJ President Adrian Saunders, however, deferred from commenting on Datadin’s announcement unless a formal application is before the courts.
Responding to this development on Wednesday, Attorney General Basil Williams did not take too kindly to the attorney’s move. According to Williams, the Appeal Court’s ruling means that it is business as usual unless the CCJ says otherwise.
Prior to Datadin’s request, the CCJ had been dealing with case management matters for the case ahead of the actual hearing, set to be held from May 9 to May 10. Justice Saunders had noted that due to varying lengths of written submissions, it was not necessary to give everyone equal time. In view of this, he informed that Douglas Mendes, appearing for the Opposition Leader, would be allotted one hour from 09:00 to 10:00h.
He related that Mendes would be followed by Sanjeev Datadin on behalf of Charrandas Persaud. This will be followed by Kamal Ramkarran on behalf of Christopher Ram, bringing the session to 11:00h.
Saunders noted that after a 15-minute break, Eamon Courtenay would be given an hour to make his case, followed by lunch at 12:15h. Afterwards, counsel for Herbert Reid and Minister of State Joseph Harmon would be granted half an hour each.
“The written submissions that have been submitted [are] full and detailed, and there really is little need for extensive oral advocacy. We proposed that, because these are consolidated matters, that counsels for Mr Jagdeo; Mr Persaud and Mr Ram will follow each other in that order. Their submissions would be followed by counsels for the Attorney General; Mr Reid and for Mr Harmon,” Saunders informed the court.
“The Attorney General has submitted a cross-appeal so what we would [do] is that when counsel for Messer Jagdeo; Mr Charrandas Persaud, and Mr Ram, when they make their submissions, they will address the matters on the cross-appeal as well as the matters which constitute their own appeals.”
The three cases deal with Christopher Ram vs the Attorney General of Guyana, the Leader of the Opposition and Joseph Harmon; Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo vs the Attorney General of Guyana, Dr Barton Scotland and Joseph Harmon; and Charrandas Persaud vs 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.
In the case of Ram vs the Attorney General, the political activist had petitioned the High Court to have Government resign and President David Granger call elections within 90 days as stipulated by Articles 106 (6) and (7) of the Constitution.
The Court of Appeal had ruled in a 2:1 split decision that a majority of 34 votes would have been needed to validly pass the no-confidence motion brought against the Government last year.
While Justice Rishi Persaud had dismissed the appeal and conferred with the ruling of the High Court, his colleague appellate Judges allowed the State’s appeal.
Both Justices Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Dawn Gregory opined that while 33 is the majority of the 65-member National Assembly, the successful passage of a no-confidence motion requires an “absolute majority” of 34, and not the “simple” majority of 33 that has been used to pass ordinary business in the House.