Mar 27, 2017 News
Chief Justice (Ag) Madam Yonette Cummings-Edwards, on Friday, delivered her ruling in the matter filed by Cheddi Jagan Research Inc.
Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General, Basil Williams had previously made preliminary submissions that the Court had no jurisdiction on a number of grounds.
In her ruling on Friday, Justice Cummings -Edwards noted that the Constitutional division of the High Court has jurisdiction to hear a matter in which the complaint is a breach of the Constitution; that whether the Applicant was guilty of material non-disclosure in its Affidavits, cannot be an issue which goes to the jurisdiction of the Court; that the validity of the lease issued to the Applicant cannot be questioned at this preliminary stage of the proceedings and that issue must be determined at the trial of the case and this issue cannot affect the jurisdiction of the Court; that the President is immune from the curial process but his actions are not; that in any event, this issue must be properly dealt with after evidence is taken.
The Attorney General and the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission were named as respondents in the case.
Having overruled the AG’s submissions, the Court granted leave for him to file an Affidavit in Answer within seven days and for the Applicant to file an Affidavit in Reply, if necessary. The Court further ordered that the parties should lay over their submissions and the matter is fixed for a further hearing on the 12th and 21st of April, 2017.
Red House has been the subject of a court matter since December 2015. The PPP/C had moved to the High Court to bar the revocation of a lease and the removal of artifacts from Red House, a national heritage site.
The move came after President David Granger ordered that the lease to the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre Incorporated (CJRCI) be revoked, and that the occupants vacate the property by December 31, 2016.
The Red House lease was granted by the then PPP/C government to Cheddi Jagan Research Centre Incorporated (CJRCI), a company formed by the members of the same party.
However, according to information obtained by the current government, on March 30, 2012, the Red House lease agreement was initiated without the approval of either the President of the day or The National Trust of Guyana, in contravention of Section 10 of the Lands Department Act Chapter 59:01.
In his preliminary arguments, the AG submitted that the Court’s first duty is to determine whether it has the jurisdiction to proceed with hearing the matter.
The Attorney General contended that the Chief Justice had no Jurisdiction to proceed with the matter for a number of reasons.
One of the reasons the AG contended is that an applicant for the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre Inc. (CJRCI), who goes ex-parte to the Court, has a duty to be candid with the Court and to make full and frank disclosures of material facts within his knowledge.
Failure to do so entitles the Court to discharge any order made, and refuse to deal with the merits of the matter.
The Attorney General therefore submitted that the Applicant, the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre Inc. (CJRCI), failed to make full and frank disclosures of material facts in its ex-parte Application by way of Affidavit for Conservatory Orders when it concealed from the Court that President Ramotar sanctioned/approved of the lease in 2012; that the lease being 99 years was not executed in the manner of a transport before the Court e.g. was not published in the official Gazette; the lease was not filed as record in the Registry and annotated and Red House was a National Monument under the National Trust Act Chapter 20:03.
Williams submitted that the omission to execute the contract in the manner of a transport before the Court and file it as of record in the Registry was fatal since under the Deeds Registry Act Chapter 5:01 such a lease was invalid, ineffectual and could not be pleaded in a Court of Law.
Nandlall nonetheless described the points made by the AG at this stage of the trial as “deeply flawed” and “premature.”
He said that while the AG was intended to address the Court on matters of jurisdiction, his arguments were based on whether or not the case has merit.
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