CCJ should not exercise jurisdiction- Attorney-at-Law Mayo Robertson
ꟷSays Guyana’s Constitution and CCJ Act is clear and unambiguous
DPI, Guyana, Sunday, June 28, 2020
Attorney-at-law Mayo Robertson has said the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) should not exercise jurisdiction over the Eslyn David verses the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) case.
Robertson, who is the attorney for the applicant, private citizen – Eslyn David, explained that the Constitution of Guyana and the CCJ Act states clearly that the CCJ should not exercise jurisdiction.
The CCJ Act Section 4 (3) says that any decision of the Court of Appeal which would have been deemed final by any law enforced at the time the CCJ came into force shall remain final.
“And so, it’s going to be a challenge for the respondents in the case to successfully get around that language,” Robertson stated while appearing of the televised programme ‘Beyond the Surface.’
Robertson made it clear that his position and that of his client is that ‘The Court of Appeal is final.’
Nevertheless, he indicated that the CCJ does have an overarching authority to declare whether the court has jurisdiction based on the constitution, and so, it is not inappropriate to approach the court to raise that issue.
On June 22, the Appeal Court in a majority ruled that it had jurisdiction to hear the case brought by Eslyn David stopping the declaration of results for the March 02 General and Regional elections based on ‘tainted’ votes.
Robertson explained that the case was brought to the Court of Appeal because there have been allegations of impropriety in the voting process and it is important that Guyana as a democracy have an election that passes the “smell test.”
“We have to be able to hold our heads up high and be proud of ourselves as Guyanese when it comes to our elections and if we have documented allegations of people impersonating lawful electors and casting ballots, certainly that does not lend credibility. And if we have situations where scores of ballot bosses don’t have the legally required documentation, again that does not lend confidence to the process, “Robertson remarked.
He noted that there is a unique provision of Article 177 (4) of the Constitution of Guyana that gives the Court of Appeal exclusive jurisdiction over such matter as any questions having to do with the qualifications of someone who wants to be president or the interpretation of the constitution concerning the election of the president.
“Typically, challenges that started at the High Court, persons who are dissatisfied with the outcome, can go to the Court of Appeal. But when it comes to proceedings under Article 177, there is no other way – the only way to proceed is through the Court of Appeal.”
In essence, Robertson said the Appellate Court ruled that any reference to ‘more votes cast’ in Article 177 (2) must be interpreted to mean ‘more valid votes cast’.
Under that same article, the Chief Elections Officer is required to prepare a report that identifies the list in favour of the party for which more votes were cast and the presidential candidate from that list will then be deemed, president.
He reminded that Article 177 (2) has to be taken into conjunction with section 96 of the Representation of the Peoples Act which sets out a more detailed methodology for the Chief Elections Officer.