Granger has different interpretation of CJ’s ruling to give reasons for rejection – AG

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Attorney General Basil Williams on Monday said President David Granger has a different interpretation of the ruling by Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire for reasons to be given for the rejection of each nominee for the post of Chairman of the Elections Commission (GECOM).

Many organisations have already called on the Head of State to provide reasons for rejecting the 18 nominees submitted by the Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo, in accordance with the ruling.

The ruling states: “The Leader of the Opposition and others for that matter, may not agree with the reasons given, but they must be given so that the parameters for the submission of another list if required would be set.”

The Attorney General, in a statement, said the President “understands this to mean that only where he agrees to more than one list reasons must be given.”

The statement explained that upon rejection of the first list of nominees, the President outlined certain criteria for the Opposition Leader to follow in selecting nominees for the position of GECOM Chairman.

The criteria include, among other things, for the GECOM Chairman to not be involved in religious or political advocacy.

“The names of the listed persons in the final list have not conformed to these criteria,” the Attorney General stated in defence of Granger’s decision.

It must be noted however that 84 – year – old Justice (Ret’d) James Patterson has been a religious leader for years – therefore, he also does not conform to the President’s own criteria.

The Attorney General also defended the unilateral appointment of Justice Patterson by arguing that in the case of Marcel Gaskin V AG et al in which Learned Chief Justice the Hon. Roxane George-Wiltshire gave the following answers to the Applicant’s questions inter alia: –

“The submission of the list does not mean that the President is obliged to accept the list or the persons named in it.  If the President is of the view that the list is deficient either in totality or in the names that have been included, he can exercise his discretion to deem the entire list unacceptable. See page 30 of the Marcel Gaskin’s case.

“If the President considers that one or more persons on the list is not a fit and proper person and therefore unacceptable, then he may decide to reject the entire list as being incomplete or restrictive, or he may decide to choose one of the persons if they qualify even though every other name on the list is not acceptable. Therefore, the whole list need not be rejected.”

The statement said having rejected the final list, reliance was placed on the Learned Chief Justice’s ruling that the President in the exercise of his judgment to reject the final list could have: –

“Resort to the proviso to Article 161(2) which permits the President to act independently to appoint a person of the Judicial category to be the Chairman of GECOM, that is a person who is presumptively fit and proper.”

The parliamentary opposition and the applicant disagree with the final interpretation and have publicly expressed their intention to appeal the ruling. Meanwhile, the PPP has filed legal proceedings against the President’s decision on the basis that it was unconstitutional.

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