Two separate summonses have been filed in the High Court to overturn the decision of the Director of Public Prosecution DPP to discontinue a private criminal charge of Misconduct in Public Office, against Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence and Minister of Social Cohesion Dr George Norton.
The writs, filed last week, call the decision of the capricious, whimsical, irrational, based upon irrelevant and extraneous considerations, contrary to the rules of natural justice, unreasonable, unlawful, null, void and of no effect.
In April, DPP Shalimar Ali-Hack discontinued the charges against Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, and Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr George Norton.
Citing her authority under Article 187 (1) (c) of Guyana’s Constitution, the DPP noted that the charges concern a grave issue under the criminal law in relation to two serving Ministers.
“In the interest of good governance in the State of Guyana, such allegations ought first to have been reported to the Guyana Police Force for an investigation to be launched and the advice of the DPP sought.”
The charges were filed by PPP Parliamentarians Juan Edghill and Vickram Bharrat, through former Attorney General Anil Nandlall. In writs filed last week, Attorney for the PPP Parliamentarians challenged the DPP‘s authority to discontinue the charges against both Lawrence and Norton.
The basis of the challenge outlines that in the exercise of the powers vested in the Office of Director of Public Prosecution by virtue of Article 187 (c) cannot act capriciously, whimsically, irrationally, based upon irrelevant and extraneous considerations, contrary to the rules of natural justice, unreasonably and unlawfully.
The applications are contending that among other things the decision of the respondent made on the 23rd day of April, 2018, to discontinue a private criminal charge of Misconduct in Public Office, contrary to the Common Law, filed by the Applicant against Ministers on the grounds that the said decision is capricious, whimsical, irrational, based upon irrelevant and extraneous considerations, contrary to the rules of natural justice, unreasonable, unlawful, null, void and of no effect.
The matters are expected to come up before Justice Fidela Corbin Lincoln for hearing on the 10th of July, 2018, at 9:30am.
According to court filings, Norton, in June 2016, while serving as Minister of Public Health, authorized the rental of a Sussex Street, Albouystown property for the purposes of a drug bond, from Linden Holdings Incorporated, for $12.5M per month.
Norton had come under immense public pressure. He was part of a Cabinet reshuffle that saw him being reassigned to the post of Minister of Social Cohesion. He subsequently received the additional appointment as Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport.
Lawrence, who was appointed Public Health Minister, is accused of the unapproved single-sourcing of $605.9M in drugs and medical supplies from Ansa McAl Trading Ltd. for the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) between January and February 2017.
The charges against the two Ministers came exactly one week after identical charges were filed by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) against Dr. Ashni Singh, former Minister of Finance, and Winston Brassington, the former head of National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).
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