Jan 19, 2016 News
By Abena Rockcliffe
Former Member of Parliament, Desmond Trotman, has made submissions to the court to have all persons who
own lands in Pradoville 2 to be added as interested parties to a court case he filed late last year.
Last September, Trotman moved to the courts to challenge the sale and transfer of acres of prime ocean-front state lands to former President Bharrat Jagdeo, past government Ministers and other close associates.
Former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, last evening confirmed that he will be representing several of the persons who have now been joined as interested parties.
These persons were originally excluded, but following submissions, the court has ordered that each be joined to the original action.
Nandlall said that he will argue that the proceedings are misconceived and are bad in law.
“These people have certificates of titles issued to them.”
He explained that Certificates of titles (Transport) are indefeasible. Nandlall said, “One can only defease a registered proprietor of his title on the ground of fraud.”
Nandlall said that unless it can be established that the registered proprietors acquired their property by fraud “their titles cannot be touched.”
The former AG told Kaieteur News that the fact that the land owners may have purchased their title below market value does not amount to fraud.
Further, Nandlall said, “More importantly” some of these title holders have mortgages registered against these properties.
“So third party has now acquired registered encumbrance on the properties,” said Nandlall.
The lawyer surmised that based on those two and other points, “It is almost impossible to impugn these titles. Then of course these persons would have developed the land and constructed properties thereby expending money with no knowledge of wrongdoing or fraud.
Nandlall opined that “the entire thing is just a fishing expedition.”
He said that he will argue that it is an abuse of the court process as well as a waste of judicial time.
Further, Nandlall pointed that the judiciary is an organ of state and said that the constitution protects private property against compulsory acquisition by the state.
Therefore, if the judiciary is to issue any order that would adversely affect the property interest of these people it will have constitutional implications.
Nandlall said that despite the fact that Trotman is a private citizen, he has moved an arm of the state and “when the court makes an order it is the state that is making the order.”
One of the grounds upon which the court case was filed, was that the lands were distributed way below their worth, But Nandlall said that the law doesn’t make consideration of adequacy once no fraud has taken place.
The lawyer further stated, “If you get a pacu to sell you a multi-million-dollar property for a dollar, the law doesn’t interfere with the transaction; you have freedom to contract.
Nandlall said, “You have lots of issues…it’s a very complex case, not straight forward at all.
Trotman, the Committee for the Defence of the Constitution Incorporated, and Senior Counsel Rex McKay, are seeking a mandatory order directed to each of the property owners that the legal and beneficial ownership of the parcels of land at Plantations Goedverwagting and Sparendaam, purported to be sold and transferred to them, shall be returned to the State.
Trotman is claiming that the prime lands were covertly sold at undervalued prices in a manner clearly lacking transparency and in an effort to develop the exclusive scheme, orders came from Cabinet and not through the requisite statutory bodies.
Trotman brought to the court’s attention that the millions of dollars have been spent to develop the area but it was done unlawfully. The act was an abuse of power by the then Executive in contravention of the rights of the people, Trotman said.
In this light, the court has been asked to also grant a conservatory order prohibiting the Registrar of Lands from registering or transferring, or in any form or manner encumbering any of the parcels of land located in what is popularly known as Pradoville 2.
Trotman said the proceedings have been laid out in the interest of the public.
The court is being asked to declare that the move by the former Cabinet to authorize National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL) to approve the mutation of the parcels of East Coast Demerara lands without the authorisation and approval of Parliament, the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) and other relevant statutory authorities “is arbitrary, unconstitutional, unreasonable, unlawful, ultra vires, null and void, ab initio and of no legal effect.”
Trotman wants the court to declare, too, that the purported conferment of the benefits, advantages and facilities by the then Cabinet and administrative actions of the State on the purported purchasers of parcels of the state lands, to acquire titles for them an abuse of power by the Executive in contravention of the rights of the people.
In his affidavit of support, Trotman said that on September 2, 2010, parcels of the lands were registered to PPP Government ministers and their blood relatives, known supporters of the party and other senior influential Government employees.
Among those he listed were Former President, Bharrat Jagdeo, former Ministers Robert Persaud (Natural Resources), Sheik Baksh (Housing and Water), Clement Rohee (Home Affairs), Priya Manickchand (Education), Jennifer Westford (Public Service), along with Lisaveta Ramotar, General Manager of the Guyana Gold Board and daughter of former President Donald Ramotar.
These have all been joined in the action.
According to Trotman’s supporting document, beneficiaries of the Government’s largesse were also former Chief Executive Officer of GuySuCo, Dr. Rajendra Singh; former President of the Private Sector Commission, Ramesh Dookoo, and Andrew Ranji Bishop, Florrie Loretta Ramnauth, Safraz Khan. Director of Public Prosecutions Shalimar Hack, and her husband Moeenul Hack, Former Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Rear Admiral Gary Best, and former Chairman of Commonwealth Development Compton Bourne
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