Guyana Politics: CCJ dismisses application to block sitting of National Assembly

Applications requested by Bharrat Jagdeo, Christopher Ram and Charrandass Persaud

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) yesterday dismissed applications by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram and former Member of Parliament Charrandass Persaud to block today’s sitting of the National Assembly.

The Application, filed by Attorneys Anil Nandlall and Sanjeev Datadin, sought an order of the Court to block the parliamentary sitting until the outcome of the appeals before the CCJ on the no-confidence matter.

Listing the grounds for application, the attorneys contended that the convening of the National Assembly is contrary to the rule of law in the circumstances of a No Confidence Motion.            

“The consolidated appeals contend that the National Assembly has been dissolved and the Government is a “caretaker Government”; the passing of laws and conduct of affairs in the National Assembly is a break of the status quo and ought not to be permitted.”

The lawyers noted further that the applications for special leave to appeal were filed to the Court and are for the consolidated appeals to be heard together. The hearing of consolidated appeals has been set for May 9th and 10th, 2019.

“All of the submissions from all of the parties to the consolidated appeals have been filed with the Court already.
The Court had indicated the 15th April was available as a hearing date and the Attorney General had said that was not enough time to file all the necessary documents for the hearing of the consolidated appeals.

The Government of Guyana has requested and convened a sitting of the National Assembly for the 26th April at 2pm to consider a litany of items, none of which can be reasonably classified as urgent,” the application outlined.

According the lawyers, the applicant (C. Persaud) contends in his submissions to the Court that the ruling that 34 and not 33 constitutes a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly is unreasonable and contrary to the overwhelming weight of judicial authority on the meaning of the word “majority” and will demonstrate that Parliament had in fact specifically envisaged that a majority of 1 would be permitted.

Mr. Persaud further contends that consistent with the ruling of the Chief Justice, the only method to challenge or mount an attack on the eligibility of an elected member of the National Assembly is by way of elections petition under The National Assembly (Validation of Elections) Act.

It is also being contended that the convening of the National Assembly is contrary to the rule of law in the circumstances; the consolidated appeals challenge that the National Assembly has been dissolved and the Government is a “caretaker Government”; the passing of laws and conduct of affairs in the National Assembly is a break of the status quo and ought not to be permitted.

The convening of the National Assembly is only possible by the Government. The Government makes a request and the Speaker sends out notices to fix the date and time for the sitting of the National Assembly. This was done; the date and time fixed for the sitting of the Assembly is 26th April 2019,” the applicant argued further.

That the matter herein is of great national importance to the people of Guyana and an urgent determination is required herein.

The Appellant, Charrandass Persaud, seeks a hearing in the shortest possible time; the time for the holding of elections under the NCM already having passed.

However, the CCJ Judges in their ruling, dismissed all three applications.

The judges pointed out that the Court of Appeal in Guyana has invalidated the no-confidence motion against the Government and until and unless the CCJ should reverse that decision of the Court of Appeal, the status of the Government and the National Assembly of Guyana is unaffected by the result of the vote on the motion of No Confidence of the 21st day of December 2018.

he Judges ruled further that it would be imprudent in those circumstances for the Court to take the most unusual step of restraining the National Assembly from sitting.

In those circumstances, the CCJ dismissed the applications in full and ordered that costs be paid to the Attorney General of Guyana.

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