Unlawful, irregular for Appellate Court to entertain APNU+AFC election petition appeal – Solicitor General

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In a Notice of Motion filed on Friday to strike out the APNU+AFC Coalition appeal, in relation to Election Petition #99, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, has asked the Appeal Court to uphold a January 18, 2021 decision by Chief Justice (ag), Roxane George, SC, in which she dismissed the petition.

In so doing, Nandlall has also asked the Court to strike out the Coalition’s appeal which challenges the Chief Justice’s ruling.

He has submitted an affidavit in support of the Motion by Solicitor General within the Attorney General Chambers, Nigel Hawke.

In that affidavit, Hawke contends that the CJ was in order when she dismissed the petition as a nullity for non-compliance with the strict rules for service.

Hawke, in his affidavit, also questioned the Court of Appeal’s jurisdiction to entertain the appeal brought by the Coalition and regards any permission to allow the appeal to proceed as unlawful, irregular, and unconstitutional.

He contends, based on information from the Attorney General, that the High Court has exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide on the petition.

Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall (Photo: News Room/December 9, 2020)

A Notice of Appeal was filed on February 24, 2021, by Attorney-at-law and APNU+AFC Parliamentarian, Roysdale Forde, in which he represented petitioners, Monica Thomas and Brennan Joette Natasha Nurse.

The petitioners have expressed dissatisfaction at the decision and are now asking for it to be set aside by the Court of Appeal. They contended that the Chief Justice erred on several grounds when handing down her ruling, including that she misdirected herself when she applied the doctrine of strict compliance with service of affidavit in a timely manner.

The Notice of Appeal also noted that an error was made when Justice George failed to consider the overriding objective of the petition in making her decision on the content of the affidavit of service.

Leaders of the Coalition from R-L: David Granger, Joseph Harmon and Khemraj Ramjattan with Attorney, SC Roysdale Forde after filing the elections petition [Photo: August 31, 2020]
However, with two petitions filed, the Chief Justice in her January 18 ruling agreed to go ahead with one of those petitions (88/P) as the Coalition continues its challenge of the results of the March 02, 2020 general and regional elections. The petitioners in 88/P are Claudette Thorne and Heston Bostwick, both residents of Georgetown.

Justice George reasoned that 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 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 02, 2020 elections.

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.

 

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