At least 10 applications for the post of Chancellor of the Judiciary have been submitted to the relevant authorities. The administration is intent on ensuring that the process of selection is transparent and has the confidence of Guyana.
Questioned yesterday on the process which was necessitated with the imminent departure of Chancellor Justice Carl Singh, who has served for more than a decade as the head of the judiciary, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, said that the applicants are still subject to vetting and interviews.
The spokesperson stressed that Government is being careful in the selection process as the final candidate will have to command the confidence of not only the administration but of all Guyana.
He pointed to the current selection process for Supreme Court judges in the US which is televised and the applicants’ lives stripped bare before a public that is paying close attention.
The choice for a new Chancellor and Chief Justice would come as Government and the Opposition remains at odds over the selection of a new Chairperson for the Guyana Elections Commission.
It would also come as the country gets ready for a possible Court of Appeal ruling on a third presidential term for former President Bharrat Jagdeo.
The Chief Justice (ag) is Yonnette Cummings-Edwards. She could not have been confirmed since being sworn in by the Coalition Government in December 2015, because Justice Carl Singh is the Chief Justice. The Chief Justice is the most senior judge in the High Court.
The persons applying for the positions must be a judge of a court with unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in some part of the Commonwealth or a court having jurisdiction in appeals from any such court.
The candidates must also be qualified for admission as an attorney-at-law in Guyana and has been so qualified for such period as may be prescribed by Parliament.
Last month, Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, questioned the haste by Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Carl Singh, to complete the hearing of the appeal on whether former President Bharrat Jagdeo can run for a third term.
The matter came up the same day in the Court of Appeal, where Justice Singh announced that he will hand down a ruling in the matter on February 15, although there have been no arguments or submissions by the parties involved.
Instead, the parties have been given one week to present written submissions.
The AG believes that Justice Singh wants to hand down a ruling in the matter before he demits office on February 23, having reached the age for retirement.
The Chancellor and Chief Justice positions have always been one jealously guarded by consecutive administrations.
It has not been unknown for Government to ask top functionaries to stay on a little while longer.
Despite Justice Singh acting in the latter position since the mid-2000s, he was never confirmed. It does not appear he will be confirmed now.
Singh had at one time, performed the functions as both the Chancellor and Chief Justice was forced to relinquish the latter amidst criticisms.
In the mid-2000s, Justice William Ramlal ruled that it was unconstitutional for Justice Singh to perform the duties of both offices.
He was appointed acting Chancellor since 2005.
The Chancellor sits as chairperson of the Court of Appeal and plays a decisive role on which judges will sit in appeals.
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