Jun 15, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, SC, is arguing that the Court of Appeal has no right to entertain, much less hear the dismissed Election Petition Case, which was filed to challenge the outcome of the March 2, 2020 elections.
Election Petition # 99, which was filed under the names, Monica Thomas and Brenan Nurse, on behalf of the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), was dismissed by Acting Chief Justice (CJ), Roxane George-Wiltshire, SC, as a result of the petitioners’ non-compliance with effecting service on former President, David Granger, who was the second named respondent in the matter.
The petitioners have however filed a case to appeal the decision of the CJ (Ag) to discard the matter. In his argument against the appeal yesterday, Nandlall raised the issue of the Appeal Court’s jurisdiction to hear and determine an Election Petition matter. In his submission, the AG argued vehemently that the Guyana Court of Appeal does not hold jurisdiction to hear the case given that Elections Petition cases are catered for under Article 163 (1) of the Constitution, which allows the case to be dealt with exclusively by the High Court.
He noted that this constitutional provision outlines the issues that are to be raised in an election petition and also limits the grounds in which those issues can be appealed. According to the AG, those grounds do not support the manner in which the petitioners in Elections Petition # 99 are seeking an appeal.
Moreover, the AG said that in this case, the CJ (Ag) had already determined that the non-service of the respondent (Granger) within the prescribed time was detrimental to the case even at a pre-trial stage. Nandlall noted that the CJ (Ag) dismissed the case on the grounds of procedural impropriety before it even went to trial and as such, there is no statutory or constitutional jurisdiction to the Court of Appeal to hear the matter.
At this point, the AG said, “there is simply no right to an appeal.” In the circumstances, the AG is asking the court to strike out the appeal and award the petitioners court cost. The Court of Appeal will continue to hear arguments on the issue on July 29, 2021 at 09:30 hrs.
A previous motion filed on behalf of the AG Chambers to strike out the appeal of the Election Petition, outlined the jurisdiction of the elections court in the High Court.
The motion stressed that the elections Court is sui generis (one of its kind) and should be regarded as such. “The High Court has inherent jurisdiction regarding its adjudication of an Election Petition. There is no statutory or Constitutional instrument granting jurisdiction to the Court of Appeal to hear an appeal of an Election Petition dismissed for procedural impropriety, or any other reason not stated in Article 163 (1) of the Constitution,” the motion added.
Additionally, the motion notes that Petition #99 of 2020 (99/20) is based on allegations of several irregularities in the conduct of the elections including: “widespread voter impersonation; widespread non-compliance with documentation; flawed voters’ list and several other irregularities.” Those issues, it added, should be dealt with in an elections petition, not an appeal.
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