Court rules Kamal Ramkarran was legally appointed as Cricket Ombudsman
In a judgment handed down on May 13, 2022, the High Court ruled that the appointment of the Cricket Ombudsman, Attorney-At-Law Kamal Ramkarran, on February 19, 2021, was legal and the functions he executed thereafter were within his powers under the Cricket Administration Act 2014.
On Sunday, February 21, 2021, lawyers representing then Guyana Cricket Board Secretary and Cricket West Indies Director, Anand Sanasie, wrote the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr., stating that he (the Minister) was only once permitted by the said Act to appoint a Cricket Ombudsman.
The letter stated: “Your recent purported appointment by Notice of 19th February, 2021 is the third such appointment of a Cricket Ombudsman by a Minister. Your predecessors in the office Dr. George Norton and Dr. Frank Anthony had done so in 2015 and 2017, respectively. Professor Winston McGowan was the first Cricket Ombudsman to have been appointed by Dr. Anthony and although he later resigned his office his appointment was never declared to be invalid. In the circumstance your appointment of Mr. Kamal Ramkarran, Attorney-at-Law as Cricket Ombudsman is unlawful and of no effect.”
The letter further questioned the period of seven days after the holding of the Demerara Cricket Board to have a Guyana Cricket Board election, noting that it “is unreasonable and does not allow the Cricket Ombudsman to carry out his statutory function of establishing and verifying a Register of Clubs before the holding of the GCB elections.”
However, Justice Franklin Holder dismissed an application filed by Sanasie, personally and in his capacity as the Secretary of the Guyana Cricket Board, Fizul Bacchus, deceased, personally and in his capacity as the President of the Essequibo Cricket Board and Bheemraj Ramkelewan, personally and in his capacity as the Chairman of the Enmore Community Centre Cricket Club, against the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, the Attorney General, Kamal Ramkarran in his capacity as the Ombudsman appointed under the Guyana Cricket Administration Act, the Demerara Cricket Board, the Berbice Cricket Board and the Guyana Cricket Board.
In January 2015, the former Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony appointed Professor Winston McGowan as Cricket Ombudsman. Professor Winston McGowan later resigned from the position of Cricket Ombudsman in or around the year 2017, without fulfilling any of the obligations vested to the Cricket Ombudsman by Section 17 of the Act.
Following the resignation of Professor McGowan, the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB), at an Extraordinary General Meeting appointed Steven Lewis as the Cricket Ombudsman on the 3rd day of May 2018.
Consequently, the said appointment of Lewis as the Cricket Ombudsman was invalidated by Justice Fidela Corbin-Lincoln.
Further, and in consequence thereof, Dr. George Norton, the former Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, appointed Lewis as Cricket Ombudsman on or around the 12th day of March 2019. However, the said appointment was also invalidated by Justice Fidela Corbin-Lincoln on 27th January 2020.
So, in effect, with McGowan not executing the roles and Lewis’ appointment being invalidated, Ramakrran, was legally appointed and also executed his roles.
The GCB elections took place on the 29th March 2021, and a newly elected Guyana Cricket Board was formed.
On the issue of whether Ramkarran as Ombudsman complied with the provisions of the Act prior to the holding of the elections on March 29, 2021, Justice Franklin considered the Applicants’ authorities on what constitutes meaningful consultation, but found the reasoning of the then Chief Justice Chang in Essequibo Cricket Board 2015- HC- CIV-DEM- CM- 2 to be reasonable.
In that case, CJ Chang held that “meaningful consultation was not an absolute procedural requirement. It was a provisional or conditional procedural requirement, breach of that procedural requirement could not and did not render the act of appointment invalid”.
The Applicants contended that the Minister of Sport was required, prior to appointing the Cricket Ombudsman, to engage in “meaningful consultation” with Cricket West Indies and that there was no meaningful consultation.
The Judge considered the Applicants’ authorities on what constitutes meaningful consultation, but found the reasoning of the then Chief Justice Chang in Essequibo Cricket Board 2015- HC- CIV-DEM- CM- 2 to be reasonable.
In that case, CJ Chang held that “meaningful consultation was not an absolute procedural requirement.”
In relation to the second issue, the Applicant contended that the Cricket Ombudsman was required to establish and verify a Register of clubs prior to the holding of the elections.
The Judge in upholding the submissions of the Respondents found that the Act does not define what is a register of clubs nor does it speak to the Cricket Ombudsman establishing a register of clubs.
He held that it is unreasonable for the Cricket Ombudsman to create the register of clubs and then verify the same.
He found that by Section 9 of the Act it was the County Boards that shall keep a register of clubs within their respective County. It was for the Cricket Ombudsman to verify the register of clubs and determine the method he uses to verify same as the verification process is not prescribed in the Act.
The learned Judge, therefore, considered the method used by Mr. Ramkarran, as laid out in his Affidavit. In doing so, he found that the Essequibo Cricket Board was non-compliant and therefore they cannot use their reluctance to comply, to stymie the holding of the elections.
The Court, therefore, dismissed the application with costs to be paid to the Attorney General, Mr. Kamal Ramkarran and the Guyana Cricket Board in the sum of $350,000 each.