Prior to 2011 I was of the firm view that in Guyana, “Justice was for all” to the extent that even if one could not afford to pay for a defence lawyer the state would provide such legal assistance.
However, since the ruling of the then Chief Justice (ag) in the Angela Haniff vs the GCB matter in 2011, I have been shocked by the interplays within our judicial system causing me to feel that justice in Guyana is more for the lawless rather than for the lawful! In reflecting on the nine (9) page ruling, I recall that Chief Justice (ag) Mr Ian Chang discharged that injunction on the grounds that the Cricket Boards/Associations were all legal non-entities and could not sue or be sued.
The learned gentleman also in his ruling recommended that since there was a Ministry of Sports and a Minister responsible for Sports, the Minister should put in place an Interim Management Committee (IMC) as an immediate relief to the ongoing cricket problems, while instituting legislative remedy as a permanent long term solution. I did have the opportunity of speaking with quite a few lawyers most of whom disagreed with the CJ (ag) on the issue of legal non-entities; for after all there were many applications / injunctions / orders granted for and against Cricket Boards/Associations even by the very Chief Justice (ag) prior to and after the ruling, however not a single lawyer challenged the ruling!
As a consequence of the recommendation of the Chief Justice, the Minister responsible for Sports established an Interim Management Committee (IMC) as a temporary measure and the Cricket Administration Bill was tabled in Parliament as a permanent measure for bringing order, accountability and fair-play back to our cricket. The Cricket Administration Bill was sent to a Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) and was passed into law unopposed after 20 meetings. Certain elements from the current Guyana Cricket Board attempted to injunct the Speaker of the National Assembly from the reading of the Bill but failed and the Guyana Cricket Administration Act 2014 was passed into law. The very elements then proceeded to file a High Court action to halt the work of the well respected historian, Dr. Winston Mc Gown the Cricket Ombudsman who was appointed by the Minister as prescribed by the Act. His job basically was to ensure that free, fair and transparent elections of the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) and its members were held. This action was subsequently dismissed by the Chief Justice (ag).
In another bid to hold on to power the very elements challenged the Act via High Court action 2014-HC-DEM-CIV-CM-106 and this matter also came up before the Chief Justice (ag). I hold the view that the challenge to the Act is frivolous and riddled with blatant inaccuracies in an apparent attempt to mislead the Court. For example, Lalta Digamber (one of the Applicants in this matter) purported to be the Secretary of the Demerara Cricket Board when he was never elected to that position. Isn’t this perjury?
While the Ombudsman is now free to call elections, these elements again approached the Court and the Chief Justice (ag) granted an Interim Order to stop all elections until the substantive matter was heard (2014-HC-DEM-CIV-CM-106). The defendants in this matter are the Hon. Minister of Sports and the Hon. Attorney General. Amazingly, to me this Interim Order was granted over a year ago and has effectively stopped all elections thereby allowing the very group to continue to govern with impunity. To date the substantive matter is still to be heard and the group has continued to impose themselves on the administration of our beloved sport, cricket.
It must be made known that the applicants in this matter are Anand Sanasie, Lalta Digamber, Fizul Bacchus, Rohan Sarjoo and Jonny Azeez all of whom are either purported executive members of the embattled Guyana Cricket Board or are directly related to it. They have filed this action by using the names of three Boards, an Association and a Club to make it appear as though it is a majority of the cricketing fraternity when it is not.
What is remarkable and of great importance, is the fact that the East Bank Cricket Association, the West Demerara Cricket Associations and the Essequibo Cricket Board managed by these individuals have played little or no cricket and shamefully have not produced a cricketer for Guyana for the past fifteen years or so.
So we have a situation where the genuine administrators who have been producing all the cricketers for Guyana for the past fifteen years, including the Berbice Cricket Board, the East Coast Cricket Board, and the Georgetown Cricket Association are now effectively and unceremoniously disenfranchised by an Interim Order of Court.
I am not a lawyer nor do I pretend to be one but I am confused and extremely perplexed, that our legal system could for five (5) years embrace such obvious illegality. As a layman it seems to me that Justice in Guyana is for the lawless and not for all. Decent law abiding citizens cannot seem to find any refuge within the current legal system. Maybe that is why there is so much crime in our society presently.
I therefore take this opportunity to congratulate the newly appointed Chief Justice (acting) and wish her every success in what is undoubtedly an extremely challenging period. Since she is of the fairer sex I expect that she will characterize her tenure with fairness and diligence, paying urgent attention to the grave injustice directed to the law abiding people of this country especially bona-fide local cricket administrators, our young cricketers and cricket itself. The existing acrobatics that pervade our legal system is unacceptable and must be eradicated urgently. Indeed it is time for a change of attitude and effect in the administering of justice in our beloved country.
Former President, Malteenoes Sports Club
First President, Georgetown Cricket Association
Former President, Demerara Cricket Board
Former Chairman – Cricket Development Committee, Guyana Cricket Board
Former Chairman of Selectors – Guyana Cricket Board
Former Director, West Indies Cricket Board.
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