Mar 07, 2016 News
It seems as if this is the season where most rulings handed down by the retired acting Chief Justice, Ian Chang are being appealed. The latest known appellant is Chief Elections Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Keith Lowenfield.
On Thursday last, Lowenfield’s attorney, Roysdale Forde appealed Chang’s February, 19 decision not to strike out the Elections Petition that was filed on behalf of the People’s Progressive Party Civic PPP/C. The acting Chief Justice had been presiding over the matter which seeks to challenge the validity of the outcome of the 2015 General and Regional Elections, since last June.
In the petition, the applicant (Opposition Member of Parliament Ganga Persaud), who was appointed Elections Agent on the List of Candidates for the PPP/C, claimed that the elections were “unlawfully conducted” and that the result of the elections was affected or might have been affected by unlawful acts or omissions.
Persaud named the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, and leaders of the eight political parties, which contested the last elections, as respondents in the matter.
Lowenfield, through his Attorney, Forde subsequently filed a summons to strike out the petition. Forde had contended that sufficient material facts have not been provided in the petition challenging the recently concluded elections.
The Attorney held that the petition is frivolous and vexatious. He requested that it be struck out on the grounds that sections of the petition failed to disclose reasonable cause of action. However, Chang ruled that the summons to strike out the Petition was premature and therefore the Court should proceed in hearing it.
Forde told reporters that he viewed the ruling as highly flawed and indicated that he will appeal it.
This was done on 14 grounds. Forde said that Chang erred in law when he failed to direct his mind to the Summons dated the 7th day of August, 2015, which noted that the Elections Petition discloses no reasonable cause of action, is frivolous and vexatious; embarrassing and oppressive and an abuse of the process of the Court. The Attorney also said that Chang failed to see that the Petition is in breach of Section 140 (2) of the Representation of the People’s Act.
Another ground was that Chang erred in law when he failed to direct his mind to the Summons and to apply the proper principles applicable to the striking out of the Petition on the grounds.
The appeal contends that that Chang erred in law when he misconstrued Section 42 of the National Assembly Validity of Election Act Cap. 1:04 in a restrictive manner.
The appeal document also stated “The Learned Judge erred in law when he found that the High Court Act Cap. 3:02 when entertaining and hearing an Election Petition was deprived of the inherent, unlimited and original Jurisdiction to entertain applications which fell outside the parameters of Article 163 (1) of the Constitution of Guyana.”
Another ground contained in the appeal is that “the learned Judge erred in law when he made a finding and determination with respect to Article 163 (1) of the Constitution of Guyana and its relationship with Section 42 of the National Assembly Validity of Election Act Cap. 1:04 without affording the Appellant an opportunity of responding to the said finding.”
Forde is also contending that Chang Judge erred in law when he found that the relief sought in the Summons dated the 7th day of August, 2015, was excluded and prohibited.
In a Petition filed last year, Persaud a PPP/C Member of Parliament underscored that the elections were not held in conformity with the Constitution of Guyana and the Representation of the Peoples’ Act, Chapter 1:03.
As such, the opposition essentially requested a recount of all ballot boxes for the last elections and fresh elections were also called for.
The PPP/C had claimed that the entire electoral process was flawed; that it contained many procedural errors and instances of fraudulent and/or suspicious actions. “Unrest, fake Statements of Poll (SOPs) and multiple voting were among several causes cited when the PPP/C filed its elections petition.”
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