Election petition goes to CCJ as Appeal Court puts hold on proceedings

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Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, will soon approach the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to challenge Guyana’s Court of Appeal decision on its jurisdiction to entertain the appeal regarding the dismissed election petition.

Nandlall, in a Notice of Motion filed last Monday, asked the court to grant leave to move to the CCJ and is also seeking an order from the Appeal Court to further stay its December 21, 2021 decision pending the appeal to the CCJ.

He seeks to challenge the Court’s decision where it ruled by a majority that it has jurisdiction to entertain an appeal of the decision by Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George to throw out elections petition 99 on the grounds of late service, non-service or improper service.

On Tuesday, Chancellor Yonnette Cummings-Edwards granted both the leave to appeal and the stay of the decision.

But that was after there was some objection to the application of the AG and Trinidadian Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes, SC, who is representing General Secretary of the PPP Bharrat Jagdeo.

As the former David Granger-led administration clings to its last hope of a challenge to the 2020 general and regional elections through attempts to revive the already dismissed election petition, the former President, as the representative for the APNU+AFC Coalition, has maintained that he stands ready to abide by the ruling of the court.

This was communicated to Guyana’s Appeal Court on Tuesday by Granger’s attorney and former Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams, SC.

The assertion came as other members of the party and serving opposition Parliamentarian Roysdale Forde, SC argued that the Court of Appeal is well within its right to refuse granting leave and staying its decision pending an appeal to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

Granger had been ridiculed for this stance of maintaining that he will await the Court’s decision while members of his coalition used judicial recourse to hold onto power and subvert the will of the people at the March 20202 elections which delivered a victory for the PPP.

While not necessarily prefacing it as an objection to the application, Forde asked the Court to consider the nature and order of its ruling on jurisdiction and questioned whether in keeping with the order the AG and the PPP could appeal to the CCJ.

He said with the appeal still pending before the local court there may be considerations for not granting the leave or the stay of the decision.

Attorneys Douglas Mendes, SC from T&T and AG, Anil Nandlall, SC [Photo: Bibi Khatoon/News Room]
That position was challenged in brief oral arguments by Mendes and Solicitor General Nigel Hawke who appeared on behalf of the Attorney General.

After hearing from both sides, the Chancellor said she will not deny the applicant leave to go to the CCJ and for a stay of the decision until the hearing and determination of that appeal.

However, she ordered that intended appellants lodge with the Registrar the sum of $750,000 as security for costs within 90 days.

In his grounds for the motion, Nandlall said, “the intended appeal is a matter of public interest which touches and concerns matters of National General and Regional Elections and as such, are proceedings of great general and public importance.”

According to Nandlall, the intended appeal is an “arguable” one with a “realistic prospect” of success on the issue.

On December 21, 2021, Justices Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Justice Dawn Gregory ruled that the CoA had the jurisdiction, or power, to hear an appeal into petition 99.

However, Justice Rishi Persaud ruled not to allow the appeal. During his ruling, Justice Persaud said the Chief Justice did not hear the “question” or merits of the petition but rather dismissed it on the basis of late submission, there was nothing to appeal.

On January 18, 2021, the Chief Justice threw out the petition of Thomas and Nurse on procedural grounds, namely that the petition was served late to David Granger, Representative of the List for A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC).

But the Chief Justice had dismissed the case because she said that from the time the petition (99 P of 2020) was served out of time on Granger it was a “non-starter.”

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