Chief Justice denies orders seeking to compel President, Cabinet to resign
Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire on Wednesday denied orders sought by former Attorney General Anil Nandlall to compel the President and Cabinet to resign.
“This application is not only wholly misconceived, it is vexatious and an absolute abuse of the process of the court,” the Chief Justice said in her ruling.
The Chief Justice relied on the judgement of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in its consequential orders of July 12. The CCJ, after ruling on consolidated appeals, had stated that the Government is on a different footing after the passage of the December 21 No Confidence motion and should behave as a caretaker.
Nandlall had argued that the CCJ had omitted to give a mandatory order compelling the President and Cabinet to resign.
But the Chief Justice ruled that she was bound by the orders of the CCJ.
“The pronouncements of the CCJ and the orders made in the consequential judgement of July 12 must be read dispassionately and objectively.
“While the applicant may be dissatisfied with the conclusion of the CCJ, he cannot seek to overturn or reinterpret it by filing an application such as this,” the Chief Justice ruled.
She said that given the CCJ’s pronouncement that the Government is in a caretaker and interim mode, “there could not have been and cannot be any requirement for a mandatory order” compelling the President and Cabinet to resign.
The Government, in the person of the Attorney General Basil Williams, had argued that the case is a wanton abuse of the court system because the country’s highest and last court of appeal – the CCJ – was asked to make such an order but did not.
He said if the appellant felt that the CCJ had made an omission it should have sought clarification from the CCJ instead but he reiterated that the CCJ received all of the submissions, and did not accede to the request for an order mandating the Cabinet and President to resign.
So, for a lower court, namely the Guyana High Court, to grant the order sought by Mr Nandlall would be to undo what the CCJ has done, the Attorney General argued through his attorney Nigel Hawke, the country’s Solicitor General.
The Chief Justice leaned on that argument in making her ruling.
The CCJ on June 18 had ruled that the December 21 No Confidence motion was validly passed, triggering the consequential constitutional provisions.
Because of that ruling, in the absence of a Parliamentary vote extending the date, elections should have been held on September 18. That was a conclusion the Chief Justice herself had reached.
While the CCJ did not issue coercive orders, such as dictating a date for elections or ordering the Cabinet to resign, the Court stated that the particular provisions on the passage of a No-Confidence motion “require no gloss on the part of the Court in order to render them intelligible and workable.”
“Their meaning is clear and it is the responsibility of constitutional actors in Guyana to honour them,” the Court had stated on July 12 in highlighting the way forward after its previous judgement.
“Upon the passage of a vote of no confidence, the Article (of the Constitution) requires the resignation of the Cabinet including the President.”
In arguments before the Chief Justice Friday, Attorney Kamal Ramkarran, representing former Attorney General Nandlall, argued that the Cabinet has not resigned and so the Government continues to violate the constitution.
He argued that the CCJ, in not making clear orders, allowed the constitutional actors an opportunity to act with integrity and comply with the Constitution but he said the government has failed to do so in continuing to hold Cabinet meetings and hence the reason for the Court challenge.
Nandlall told reporters that he will be appealing the judgement of the Chief Justice.
The Attorney General said the Government was happy with the ruling.