Oct 01, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – Oral arguments over the non-appointment of permanent holders to the office of Chief Justice (CJ) and Chancellor of the Judiciary will commence in the Demerara High Court on November 23, 2022.
The Constitution mandates that there be consultation and agreement between the President and the Leader of the Opposition on the two top judicial posts. Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton has already indicated his full support for the two judges who are acting in the positions to be confirmed. The Opposition Leader had written a letter to President Irfaan Ali indicating this. However, so far, President Ali has put the confirmation for the top judicial posts on hold.
As a result, the President is facing legal action for not initiating consultation. A case brought by Vice Chairman of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Vinceroy Jordan is seeking, inter alia, an order directed to the President through the Attorney General compelling the Head of State to forthwith initiate the process contemplated by Article 127 of the Constitution to make permanent appointments to the two offices.
Presiding over the case is Justice Damone Younge. The parties in the case are expected to file and exchange written submissions on or before October 25, thereafter, the oral argument will commence in November.
Currently, Yonette Cummings-Edwards is the acting Chancellor and Roxane George-Wiltshire is the Chief Justice (Ag). The last confirmed Chief Justice was Desiree Bernard from 1996 to 2001 and the last confirmed Chancellor was Bernard as well from 2001 to 2005. Several sections of society have been calling for the substantive office holders of the two key positions.
Kaieteur News had reported that as part of his application, the PNC/R Vice Chairman and Opposition MP also seeks a declaration from the court that the President has no valid reason not to initiate the process to appoint permanent holders to the office of the Chief Justice and Chancellor.
He also wants the court to order the President to consult with the Opposition Leader on having permanently appointed judicial officers.
In a document to support his application, Jordan pointed to reports in which he said that President Ali from the date of his appointment, August 2, 2020, to the present time has refused to initiate any process to appoint permanent office holders to the top judicial posts.
The applicant alluded to the list of excuses given by the President as basis of not initiating the process to appoint the persons. Among them, he noted that Ali had said that then Leader of the Opposition Joseph Harmon and the Opposition must recognise him and his Government as a legitimate Government before he consults with him on the appointment.
In addition, Jordan noted the Caribbean Court of Justice, through its presidents, has repeatedly called for permanent appointments to be made to the offices of the Chancellor and Chief Justice of Guyana.
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