2020 Elections petition lacks merit – AG

It is very likely that the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) will dismiss the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) elections appeal case before it again.

This is the position of Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, SC when the Apex Court heard more than four hours of arguments on Tuesday in the Elections Petition 99 case.

Hon. Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, MP, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs

In his weekly programme ‘Issues in the News’, Minister Nandlall reminded that it was sheer incompetence on the part of the Opposition to not properly serve the necessary documents in the required time frame.

He highlighted that there is no intention of the government to stifle the hearing of the petition, but they ought not to be held responsible for the mishaps of the applicants in the matter.

There are rules if you want to go into the ballot boxes. You have to file your petition and you have to file and serve it properly…I wish that the other side was competent enough to take their petition to trial but they were not and that’s not my fault,” he said.

The Attorney General said the matter is now before the CCJ and a definitive ruling will be given on the matter.

The matter is all the way at the CCJ, and we will see how they rule. [It’s unlikely], but they may order the petition to go back to the high court, I don’t know how that’s possible, and then we can have a trial,” Minister Nandlall posited.

AG Nandlall, along with Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, is contending that Guyana’s Court of Appeal did not have jurisdiction to overturn the decision of the high court.

“If your honours are to examine the judgement of Chief Justice George, her honour quoted copious authorities that aggregate to say that when procedural requirements are not met, the impact and legal effect is that it affects the validity of the petition itself. It nullifies the petition, and that principle is inextricably linked to the jurisdiction of the court to entertain such as a defective petition and those two principles marry, to prohibit an appeal, because there is really no decision from which one can appeal,” the Attorney General said in his submissions Tuesday.

Chief Justice (ag) Roxanne George-Wiltshire on January 18, 2021, dismissed the petition on the grounds of late service to former president David Granger.

The Attorney General had argued that on this basis, there is no statutory or constitutional instrument granting jurisdiction to the Court of Appeal to hear the appeal of an election petition for “procedural impropriety”, or any other reason not listed in the Constitution of Guyana.

The five-justice panel said parties will be notified when it is ready to deliver its ruling.

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