Sep 18, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – High Court Judge, Justice Fidela Corbin-Lincoln, yesterday denied granting two interim injunctions that were brought by three major unions in Guyana against the State’s vaccination policy.
Last month, the case was filed by the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU), and the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC). The Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, was named as the only respondent in the matter.
The matter was called earlier this month for a fixed date application and yesterday continued. The Unions joined forces to seek several injunctions and declarations, inter alia. They had sought an injunction preventing the State from implementing the requirements that public servants and others must provide proof of vaccination or a weekly negative PCR test result at their own expense.
Through their attorneys, Darren Wade and Dane Elliott-Hamilton, they also asked the court for an interim injunction which states that the State should bear the cost for the weekly PCR test results for unvaccinated public servants, until the court determines an application to the legality of the Government’s COVID-19 Emergency Measures that were published in the Official Gazette.
In her ruling, Justice Corbin-Lincoln informed the attorneys that she will not grant the two aforementioned injunctions and gave her summary.
Moreover, the unions had also approached the High Court asking it to declare that the COVID-19 health emergency guideline that was initially implemented by former President, David Granger, and the Presidential declaration that was later made by President, Irfaan Ali, to be deemed ultra vires and in breach of constitutional rights of the workers.
The unions are contending that Granger exceeded his authority when he issued the first COVID-19 emergency measure back in March 2020 under the public health ordinance and that Ali did the same thing when he enhanced the order by issuing guidelines for mandatory vaccination.
In her ruling on the submissions that were made to the court, Justice Corbin-Lincoln also noted that the Court is yet to decide whether or not the Presidential orders that were made in relation to the COVID-19 measures were made in accordance to the law.
Kaieteur News had reported that the “no vaccine, no entry” requirement has resulted in unvaccinated workers, who fail to provide a weekly negative PCR test, being denied entry into their place of work.
On the first hearing of the matter, the AG argued that the reliefs being sought in the application cannot be granted against the State. As it relates to the laws and facts of the case, Nandlall said that the court ought not to grant the interim declaration being sought by the applicants against the March 16, 2020, directions of the president’s implementation of the COVID-19 protocols and guidelines.
He cited Section 16 (6) of the State Liability and Proceedings Act.
Among other things, the AG said that according to Section 16 of the said act “the court shall not in any civil proceedings grant any injunction or make any order against an officer of the State if the effect of granting the injunction or making the order would be to give any relief against the State which would not have been obtained in proceedings against the State.”
However, in response, the unions’ attorney, Elliott-Hamilton, rejected the AG’s arguments and said that the court has the power to grant injunctions against the State.
This led to both parties making their submissions to the court which were ruled on yesterday by Justice Corbin-Lincoln.
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