Nov 10, 2022 News
– As Judge rejects lawyer’s application to recuse self
Kaieteur News – Opposition Chief Whip, Christopher Jones was subject to cross examination in the case which was filed to challenge the legality of passage of the Natural Resource Fund bill which was approved in National Assembly on December 2021.
Jones testimony came moments after High Court Justice Navindra Singh rejected a preliminary application by Canadian-based Guyanese Attorney, Selwyn Pieters to recuse himself from hearing the case on the basis of prejudice. Jones and Trade Unionist, Norris Witter had filed the legal challenge to the Act which was passed on December 29 last.
Among other things, the duo claimed that due to the absence of the ‘Parliamentary Mace’ – the most significant symbol in the National Assembly, and some members not seated, the NRF Bill cannot be regarded as being lawfully passed. The NRF Bill which has since become law is meant to ensure that there is security, transparency and accountability surrounding revenues the country gains from oil and gas. It also outlines a structure of how the monies from oil and gas will be used and provide for continuous public disclosures, audits and parliamentary approvals.
After giving a brief overview of his witness statement produced in the trial, Jones faced several questions from Attorney General (AG) Anil Nandlall SC, the lead counsel representing the Government of Guyana in the matter.
While under cross- examination by the AG, Jones accepted that the opposition members had openly and loudly protested the passage of the Bill. He agreed too while the Speaker is empowered to manage the affairs of Parliament by way of the standing orders, this did not stop the opposition defying his orders after he rejected a proposal by Jones to have the matter debated.
In response to the Speaker’s denial of his request, Jones agreed with the AG’s suggestion that this prompted him and other opposition Members of Parliament to leave their designated seat without the approval of the speaker and engage in a protest exercise whereby, they banged on the desks, blew whistles and chanted loudly.
This, Jones said was in an attempt to get Speaker and Government members of the National Assembly to adhere to provisions of Article 13 of the constitution. The Opposition Chief Whip agreed with the suggestion that their actions brought the proceeding to a temporary halt but this did not stop the Speaker from allowing Finance Minister with the Office of the President Dr. Ashni Singh from completing his presentation on the NRF bill. Asked about the series of events that followed as Dr. Singh read the Bill, Jones said he could only speak some of the events as he did not capture everything as they unfolded.
He claimed that for instance, while he knew that there was a confrontation between some of the opposition MPs and the Speaker and staff of the National Assembly over the parliamentary mace, he did not see which MP attempted to run off with the ceremonial object. Jones claimed that he could not recall some of the events clearly that he only learnt of some via news reports. The Opposition Chief Whip’s testimony followed a decision by Justice Singh to reject an application by Mr. Pieters for the judge to recuse himself from the trial. In association with Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde, Pieters is representing Jones and Witter in the matter. He claimed that the judge exhibited judicial hostility towards him when his colleague attempted to introduce them.
Pieters claimed that Justice Singh refused to shake his hands while stating, “I don’t care to be introduced to Mr. Pieters.”
Pieters later explained that in his view, “there was some sort of hostility as the judge even raised an issue dating back to the 2016 Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the Camp Street Prison Unrest.
He told media operatives that his reason for asking that Justice Singh to recuse himself is in the best interest of justice. He said “…Certainly, we want a hearing where justice is not only done but seen to be done. We also want the judge to be fair, the judge to be impartial and the judge not to exhibit any bias, and certainly yesterday the conduct of the judge in terms of how he interacted with [me] one of the Counsels in the case, it didn’t display the proper judicial temperament that was expected of a judicial official.”
In response to the application, AG Nandlall said there is no merit for the judge to recuse himself. He argued, “The law in relation to a judge recusing himself and in relation to bias is very clear and a very serious matter if you ask a judge to recuse him or herself, or you accuse a judge of bias, you have to have substantial ground to support your application or request. You have to show that the judge has some personal interest in the matter, financial or otherwise.”
Nandlall noted that none of the grounds was presented. As a result, Justice Singh dismissed application, thus declining Pieters’ request and proceeded with the matter.
LOOK WHAT YOU’RE GETTING WITH 52%
Dec 08, 2022– Uniforms unveiled for One Guyana President’s Cup By Rawle Toney Kaieteur News – President Irfaan Ali last evening doubled down on the Government of Guyana’s commitment to the...
Dec 08, 2022
Dec 08, 2022
Dec 08, 2022
Dec 08, 2022
Dec 07, 2022
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – (The writer is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States of America... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]