Nandlall withdraws contempt case against Mingo, others; reprimanded by Chief Justice
The High Court on Thursday imposed costs of $450,000 against the estate of Reaaz Hollader after Attorney-at-law Anil Nandlall applied and was granted permission by the High Court to withdraw contempt of court proceedings filed against the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Justice (rt’d) Claudette Singh, Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield and District Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo and others.
A livid Chief Justice Roxane George said Nandlall had wasted the court’s time when he knew from the “get-go” that he had “thin” evidence to back his case.
Nandlall, thanks to reasoning from his attorney Devindra Kissoon, averted costs be levied against him personally.
Nandlall admitted that relevant and probative evidence was not available at the time of the application and begged for the court’s mercy.
Attorney Neil Boston, who appeared for the GECOM Chairman, Lowenfield and Mingo argued that Nandlall had made damning allegations that the GECOM Chairman and three Commissioners – Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin and Donald Trotman – instructed Mingo to disregard the March 11 order of the Court, which had ruled that Mingo needed to display Statements of Poll from the March 02 elections so that all parties could see.
Mingo, political parties had stated, disregarded the Chief Justice’s order. The European Union Observer Mission also made that contention in its final report submitted last week.
But there was no way for Nandlall to prove that in doing so Mingo acted on the instructions of the GECOM Chairman, the Chief Elections Officer or the three GECOM Commissioners.
The application was filed by Hollader on March 12 but Hollader subsequently died. He was substituted by Padmini Bhiro on April 7.
The Chief Justice noted that she had repeatedly asked Nandlall if he was proceeding with the case and he indicated in the affirmative and so she had gone ahead and done all the work, even preparing a judgment to be read out today.
And so while she accepted the notice to withdraw the case, she pointed out that contempt proceedings are not ordinary cases that commit persons to jail and hence her strong reprimand of Nandlall.
Attorney Boston had argued that Nandlall couldn’t have brought the case this far knowing he hadn’t the evidence and then seek to go through a side door without having the court to rule on the issue and wanted the Chief Justice to proceed with her ruling.
The Chief Justice pointed out that the evidence from Nandlall was “very, very deficient” and it was very distressing to her that he would file a notice for withdrawal at this stage.
But after the severe reprimand of Nandlall, she did agree to accept the notice of withdrawal and did not proceed with her judgment.
She granted costs of $150,000 each to the GECOM Chairman, the Chief Elections Officer and Mingo.