Chief Justice dismisses one elections petition, to go ahead with other
By Kurt Campbell
Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George on Monday dismissed one of the APNU+AFC’s election petition (99/P) for procedural non-compliance of service on former President David Granger.
However, with two petitions filed, she agreed to go ahead with one of those petitions (88/P) as it continues its challenge of the results of the March 02, 2020 general and regional elections. Justice George said because Granger was not served within the required five-day timeline for doing so, and he has been found to be a necessary party in the proceedings, petition 99/P was declared a nullity and dismissed.
Although Granger has been determined to be a necessary party in both petitions, the CJ observed that the petitioners in petition 88/P fully complied with all procedures for service and as such, that petition will proceed.
The High Court, sitting as an Election Court, determined from the evidence before it, that Granger was served on September 25, 2020 when he should have been served by September 21, 2020.
The Chief Justice said there are a plethora of cases from the Caribbean that non-adherence of service in a specific timeline would see the petition being dismissed. Among the cases she cited were Joseph and Brown 1994, Mohabir and Cuffy 2015 and Joseph and Reynolds 2012.
Justice George rejected arguments put forward by lawyers representing the petitioners which claimed that Granger was added as a misjoinder, that he is not a necessary party and as a consequence, should be struck out. She regarded such arguments as being “preposterous, to say the least.”
She said it appeared to be absurd and unmeritorious argument contrived to provide cover.
“From the time it was served out of time on the necessary party, it was non-starter,” Justice George said, while reminding that the rules of filing an elections petition must be strictly complied with.
The Chief Justice, in her ruling, also rejected supplementary affidavits filed by the petitioners which sought to explain that Granger made a mistake when he signed September 25, insisting that he was signed on September 18.
She said permission should have been sought to file the supplementary affidavits and it cannot be relied on as proof of timely service. The Chief Justice has set February 12, 2021 for written submissions by the petitioners and March 5, 2021 for submissions by the respondents.
The court will sit again on April 7, 2021.
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 field subsequently on September 15, 2020, also challenging the March 02, 2020 elections.
In Petition 88 of 2020, the APNU+AFC is challenging the legitimacy of the elections report which allowed for Dr. Irfaan Ali to be sworn in as President.
Filing Attorney and APNU+AFC Parliamentarian, Roysdale Forde had said previously that his team intends to call no witness. He explained that there was no need to lead evidence because the defence will be relying on affidavits and exhibits on file, which include the Observation Reports from the recount exercise.
The petitioners in 88/P are Claudette Thorne and Heston Bostwick, both residents of Georgetown.
Ultimately, they want 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.
The petitioners want the court to declare that the 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.