The Opposition has also noted an “error” in the Acting Chief Justice’s ruling on the interpretation of Article 161 (2) of the Constitution in respect of the appointment of a Chairperson for GECOM and as such will support the appeal by the applicant, Marcel Gaskin.
Gaskin has already asked his attorneys to lodge a Notice of Appeal because he believes Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire made “a gross error” and went out on a tangent to make a ruling on the interpretation of a section of the Constitution that was not before the court, thus creating more confusion.
In a statement, the Attorney Anil Nandlall said the Chief Justice ventured beyond the purview of her remit and expressed an opinion on an issue that was not before the Court for its interpretation – i.e. the proviso to Article 161 (2) of the Constitution.
“The Learned Chief Justice is reported to have said, as part of her ruling, that if the President finds all 6 names unacceptable, the proviso becomes applicable, meaning, that he can appoint a person of his own choosing,” he stated.
Nandlall is an attorney representing Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo who was named as a party to those proceedings
Both Gaskin and the Opposition are arguing that this particular issue was not before the Court and was not part of the questions posed for the court to answer.
Nandlall maintained that the proviso can only be activated when, through the default of the Opposition Leader, no list is submitted to the President.
Gaskin, in a statement yesterday, explained that the proviso was never an issue since the Leader of the Opposition submitted not one but two lists of persons for nomination as Chairman of GECOM.
In a statement, the Opposition Leader said he is waiting on the a copy of the written decision and if indeed the Chief Justice made the error in her ruling, he said “then I will have no alternative but to support any appeal filed by Marcel Gaskin in the matter.”
Meanwhile, the Opposition is pleased with some of the rulings handed down by the Chief Justice yesterday since it has clarified a number of issues pertaining to the various interpretations of the Constitution on the appointment of the GECOM Chair.
She ruled that the list of names which is to be submitted by the Leader of the Opposition to the President for the appointment of a Chairman of GECOM can comprise of judges, former judges, any person qualified to be a judge or any other fit and proper person
She also said that there is no preference of one category over the other; that any person from each category can be appointed; that the list can consist of six judicially or legally qualified persons, or six fit and proper persons; that there is no requirement that a judicially qualified person must be on any list; and that any fit and proper person must have the characteristics of honesty, integrity, impartially and independence from political or other control.
She also said that the President is obliged, in the furtherance of democracy and good governance, to provide reasons for deeming each of the six names on the list submitted to him, as unacceptable.
The Chief Justice also ruled that the Constitution contemplates only one list but that list can be amended with names added and removed from it.
And she ruled that the finding by the President that one name is unacceptable does not render the entire list unacceptable; that so long as a single name is acceptable to the President, he ought to appoint that person.
The Opposition Peoples Progressive Party is satisfied that all of the above vindicate the position they have adopted on this matter from the inception.