Justice Franklyn Holder is expected to proceed with hearing a case filed by A Partnership for National Unity – Alliance for Change (APNU-AFC) candidate, Ulita Moore, following a ruling that the High Court has jurisdiction to hear the Fixed Date Application (FDA).
Justice Holder also handed down a decision yesterday refusing a request by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo to have the Statements of Poll (SOPs) garnered from the March 2, 2020 elections disclosed in Court.
The Judge had previously granted an interim injunction to put the recount process on hold.
The interim injunction granted to Moore restrains the Chairman of GECOM, and the Chief Elections Officer, from setting aside or varying the declarations already made by the 10 electoral districts with any other documents or declarations, until the hearing and determination of the judicial review of the application.
According to the interim injunction, it restrains GECOM from permitting or authorising “any person or persons to any agreement between the President of Guyana and the leader of the determination of the judicial review application”.
“The interim decision also restrains the Chief Elections Officer, CEO, from submitting any report of the total votes cast for each List of Candidates pursuant to Section 96 (1) and (2) of the Representation of the People Act, save and except the votes counted and the information furnished by the Returning Officer under Section 84 (1) of the Representation of the People Act until the hearing and determination of the judicial review Opposition and or any agreement between GECOM and the Caribbean Community or at all, to count or recount any ballots cast by electors at the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections until the hearing and application filed herein.
Lawyers representing the Leader of Opposition, People Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Bharrat Jagdeo, who filed a joint application with Reaz Holladar, a private citizen, have challenged Moore’s injunction. In his representation of the PPP/C, Trinidad- based Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes challenged the application on the grounds that court has no jurisdiction to hear the action.
In the ruling yesterday, Justice Holder noted that Jagdeo’s lawyers in their arguments of whether the Court has jurisdiction had cited section 140 of the Representation of the People Act.
“I do recognize that Section 140 does prescribe for an alternative statutory remedy in the form of an elections petition where persons are aggrieved relative to any of the issues provided for in Article 163. This is a limited alternative remedy to treat with only those issues provided for in Article 163.
He added that “This is a true statement of law where the provision such as in Section 140 of the Representation of the People Act, the court could provide an alternative statutory remedy.”
“An alternative statutory remedy relates to questions provided for in Article 163, where GECOM may be acting in the ambit of its jurisdiction…in Section 140 (1) of the Representation of the People Act by itself …does not oust the jurisdiction of the court, in its ordinary jurisdiction, for Judicial Review where the Elections Commission has alleged to have done or intends to do something that it has no jurisdiction to do.
As such, Holder stated that the court has jurisdiction to hear the application brought by Ulita Moore.
Outside the Courthouse, Attorney -at- law Neil Boston S.C, who represents Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, in the matter, told the court that the decision of the Court not to allow Jagdeo ‘s request for the SOPs is in keeping with the argument that such issues can only be sorted out by way of an elections petition.
“This is after the final results are declared and everything is finalized. Not in a matter that is set for judicial review; it cannot happen. That would be unlawful.”
Meanwhile, PPP Executive Member and Attorney -at –law, Anil Nandlall said other members of his legal team would appeal the decision by Holder to hear the case, on the basis of the Representation of the People Act.
Nandlall said that the Act bars the court from enquiring into decisions by the seven-member GECOM. According to him, the appeal is likely to go all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice.
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