Arguments continue to strike out APNU+AFC elections petition
Chief Justice Roxane George will on Tuesday continue hearings in a petition filed by Attorney General Anil Nandlall to strike out the second elections petition (99/20-P) of the APNU+AFC coalition.
The Coalition had filed two petitions challenging the March 2, 2020 polls.
Nandlall is asking the court to strike out the second petition filed by Monica Thomas and Brennan Nurse on the grounds of non-service and/or defective service on respondent, former President David Granger.
The matter has to be concluded for the Court to move ahead with the elections case.
Given the grounds on which the petition is being challenged, Attorney representing Thomas and Nurse, Mayo Robertson previously argued that Granger is not a necessary respondent in the case.
On Monday, Nandlall told the court that Mr. Granger was a properly named respondent.
He added that Granger being the leader of his party’s list must be a respondent.
“That political party constitutes the largest block of (opposition) seats in the National Assembly. It simply flies in the face of fairness, natural justice…to have a court hear a case that will so devastatingly affect the interest of a party and not have that party before it. It goes against the grain of every common law principle,” Nandlall argued.
The AG pointed out that if the elections are “vitiated,” not only will it affect the PPP/C but also the 31 APNU+AFC members who sit on the Opposition benches in the National Assembly.
Asked by the Chief Justice whether he agrees that his client Mr. Granger is not a necessary respondent, former Attorney General Basil Williams said he awaits the Court’s decision to move forward.
“Your Honor where we are now, we are before you. We have submitted to your jurisdiction.
“Arguments have now subsequently exposed factors to our submission…as to what is our status….we did not join ourselves, we were brought to the court. So we are here, the court will determine what’s our status,” Attorney Williams said.
If the court decides that Granger is a necessary party, then the entire petition will need to be struck out. Granger was served on September 25, although he should have been served five business days after the petition was filed on September 15.
Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes, who represents President Irfaan Ali and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, on Monday disclosed that Granger was actually served on September 24 but signed September 25.
Mendes also argued that the petition in itself is not serving the interests of the Coalition since it will unseat the current Opposition Parliamentarians and incur costs to the party to contest another election.
“Those persons on the list represented by the second respondent who were declared elected to the National Assembly, their election will be declared null and void and then they will now have to incur the cost to contest another election,” he noted.
“That conflicts with their interests,” he added.
The APNU+AFC filed its first elections petition (88/20-P) on August 31, 2020, officially challenging the outcome of the March 02, 2020 elections and the recount exercise from which the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) emerged victorious.
A second petition (99/20-P) was filed subsequently on September 15, 2020, also challenging the March polls. The petitioners are Claudette Thorne and Heston Bostwick, both residents of Georgetown.
Ultimately, the Coalition wants the Supreme Court, after hearing its petition, to cancel the March 02 polls, which saw it losing the seat of government, and order fresh polls within 90 days.
If they succeed in their case, the petitioners are seeking orders from the court to declare that elections were so badly held that the results from it cannot be deemed to be the will of the people. At the same time, they want the court to have David Granger declared as President under those very elections they claim were conducted against the electoral laws and constitution of the country.
The petitioners contend that the Chief Elections Officer was not required to use the data from the national vote recount to produce his elections report from which the results were declared.