Case languishing in court system – Nandlall

first_imgElections petitionIt has been almost four years since the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) filed a petition against the 2015 General and Regional Elections results after coming out of office and the matter is yet to be concluded by the Judicial arm of the State.This was reiterated by former Attorney General and Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Anil Nandlall, who told Guyana Times on Saturday that since the filing of his party’s case, rulings in similar matters were determined in other jurisdictions.“Elections petition law mandates that elections petitions are to be heard with dispatch, yet ours remains languishing in the court system for nearly four years now. Occurrences like these sap public confidence from the judicial system. It simply does not auger well for our democracy,” Nandlall postulated.Following the results of the May 2015 elections, President David Granger of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change’s (APNU/AFC) was elected to post but PPP observed that the elections were not held in conformity with the Constitution of Guyana.Its petition, which was filed on behalf of the PPP/C parliamentarian Ganga Persaud, seeks to challenge the validity of the outcome of the 2015 General and Regional Elections and essentially requested a recount of all ballot boxes for the last elections and called for fresh elections. Persaud claimed that the elections were “unlawfully conducted” and that the results of the elections were therefore affected.However, Chief Elections Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Keith Lowenfield filed a summons to have the petition struck out, having described it as frivolous and vexatious. He had also outlined that the petition disclosed no reasonable cause of the action.However former Acting Chief Justice (CJ) Ian Chang had overruled Lowenfield’s summons to have the petition struck out before he demitted office. Justice Chang had ruled that the summons to strike out the petition was premature and therefore the court should proceed in hearing it.However, Lowenfield’s Attorney, Roysdale Forde, had filed an appeal and further disclosed that Chang erred in law when he failed to direct his mind to the summons and to apply the proper principles applicable to the striking out of the petition.Forde had said the Judge erred in law when he made a finding and determination with respect to Article 163 (1) of the Constitution of Guyana and its relationship with Section 42 of the National Assembly Validity of Election Act, Chapter 1:04 without affording the Appellant an opportunity of responding to the said finding.Still waitingAccording to Nandlall, however, the elections petition is still awaiting a date for a full court decision which challenges Chief Justice’s Chang order that dismissed Lowenfield’s application to strike out the matter. The former Attorney General told Guyana Times on Saturday that election petitions “all around the world” which were filed subsequent to the 215 elections petition have already been “heard and determined”. Nandlall opined that in theory, the delay could allow a “potentially illegal government” to govern for the entirety of its tenure.“Let us assume that the elections petition is heard in 2020 and it is determined in favour of the PPP. The absurd results would be that the APNU/AFC was allowed to govern for the entirety of its term although it did win the election or the electoral process to which it gained Government was tainted by some illegality which disqualified it from being the Government – such a situation strike at the heart of democracy,” the PPP/C MP posited.Guyana Times sought to garner insight by ascertaining a response from Attorney General Basil Williams but efforts to contact the Legal Affairs Minister on Saturday proved futile. When the PPP/C filed its case, it had cited procedural errors and instances of fraudulent and/or suspicious actions during the elections. Unrest, fake Statement of Polls (SOP) and multiple voting were among the reasons for the petition. Further, the presence of ‘huge mobs’ at several polling stations and other strategic places, particularly in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), were also cited by the Party as another cause for intimidation and fear.last_img