What is the delay in implementing the new rules and other measures?
I read with amazement in last week Monday’s issue of the Kaieteur News that 6,000 cases are pending, and several reasons were given for the inordinate delay.
It is very embarrassing at this age – after nearly 46 years of independence and more than four decades as a Republic – that the country still has outdated laws. It is unbelievable that the 1955 Rules are still in effect and the small OECS states have their CPR (Civil Procedure Rules) for more than a decade.
And it is because of the existing rules, Attorney General Anil Nandlall said that he cannot appeal the decision given by acting Chief Justice Ian Chang barring the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) from instituting rape charges against Commissioner of Police Henry Greene. However, one of the country’s leading attorneys, Nigel Hughes, disagrees, and has volunteered his services to take the issue to the Caribbean Court of Justice.
Nandlall, in a written opinion to the DPP, said that there are case laws which prohibit an appeal of Chang’s ruling, and one of the cases he cited is Zaman Ali v DPP, and pointed out that it was an application arising out of a criminal matter. He explained that legislation has been passed to remove the barrier, but there must be a Ministerial Order before it is enforceable, but the Order cannot be signed unless the new Rules of the High Court are promulgated.
The responsibility of drafting the new Rules resides in the Rules Committee which is being chaired by the Chancellor.
Attorney General Nandlall outlined the reasons for the backlog, but he has failed to say what is being done by the government to remove the barriers. He stated that the laws need to be amended to see the appointment of new judges. He agrees that there is need to increase the complement of judges, so what is the delay in doing so? He also spoke of the need to abolish preliminary inquiry in criminal cases. This was being done in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court a long time ago and one wonders why a big country like Guyana is so backward.
The Judicial arm of government is a very important one, but unfortunately it seems as if it is being treated like a step child. The leaders should place more emphasis on the judiciary, because without proper law and order, there would be chaos. Imagine the Head of the Judiciary, the Chancellor, and the Chief Justice, have been acting for more than five years, because the Constitution has been amended for the Leader of the Opposition to agree to the appointment, instead of being consulted.
Former Opposition leader, Robert Corbin, did not agree to both Carl Singh and Ian Chang being appointed Chancellor and Chief Justice, respectively, so they have been acting in those high judicial offices.
I wonder if the new Opposition leader, David Granger, was approached by President Donald Ramotar to confirm these appointments.