Appeal Court ruling on GECOM Chairman’s appointment deferred

first_imgThe Appeal Court ruling on the appointment of retired Justice James Patterson as the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has been deferred pending further submissions by the parties. Friday’s date was set for decision on the appeal filed by lawyers for People’s Progressive Party (PPP’s) Executive Secretary Zulficar Mustapha to reverse the June High Court ruling by acting Chief Justice Roxane George, who upheld President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of Justice Patterson as GECOM Chairman.However, the Appeal Court panel, led by Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, informed the appellant represented by Attorney Anil Nandlall and the defendant Attorney General Basil Williams that they would have to make further submissions before a decision can be handed down.Justice Cummings-Edwards explained that the court is considering four areas of law which she would want the parties to address before a ruling a made.“The Chancellor and the two [Appeal] Judges indicated to us that while they’re ready with their ruling, they need us to address certain identified issues, which they will communicate to us during the course of [Friday] afternoon. They want our assistance, they want our submissions on these identified isssues – we don’t know what they are yet but hopefully we get them before the end of today,” Nandlall told reporters outside the Appeal Court after the hearing.Nevertheless, the matter will be called again on Tuesday when both Nandlall and Williams are expected to present their written submissions, as well as oral if necessary, on the four areas to be the Court has asked to be addressed.Last October, the PPP’s Executive Secretary filed an injunction to have the court rescind the unilateral appointment of Justice Patterson, days after his appointment.However, after a several months of engaging the High Court, the Chief Justice on June 8, 2018, ruled that the Constitution of Guyana allows for the President to unilaterally appoint someone to fill the position of GECOM chair.Apart from asking that the appointment of Patterson be rescinded, the PPP had argued that he is unqualified for the post, and had petitioned the court to order the President to choose a person from the 18 names submitted by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.But the Chief Justice, in her ruling, has stated that there is nothing before the court to support a finding that the President had acted unlawfully or irrationally in resorting to the proviso to Art 161(2); and there is nothing to rebut the presumption that Justice Patterson is qualified to be appointed to the post of Chairman of GECOM.According to the Chief Justice, the Opposition did not produce evidence to support the contention that Patterson was unqualified for the position. She added that even if she had agreed with the contention that the appointment was unlawful, it would not have been “permissible for this court to usurp the function of the President by directing him to choose a nominee from the third, or any, list.”However, she did outline in her ruling that the President should have given reasons for his rejection of the 18 nominees submitted by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo in three separate lists, all of whom were rejected.In the Appeal, Nandlall on behalf of his client said that the learned Chief Justice misconstrued and misinterpreted the role of the Leader of the Opposition in Article 161 (2) of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and as such, is asking the court to overturn the High Court ruling.last_img

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