On October 4, 2018, the Court of Appeal will begin hearing arguments to a ruling made by the High Court to uphold the unilateral appointment of Justice (retired) James Patterson, as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
This was announced this afternoon by acting Chancellor of the Judiciary Yonette Cummings-Edwards. The appeal will be heard a month before the holding of Local Government Elections (LGE), which are scheduled for November 12, 2018.
Late last year, President David Granger appointed the GECOM Chairman after rejecting three lists of names submitted by Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo.
The appointment was challenged by PPP Member of Parliament, Zulfikar Mustapha.
However, in June, Chief Justice, Roxanne George ruled upholding the appointment.
Mustapha, through his Attorney-at-Law, Anil Nandlall, moved to the Court of Appeal to challenge the ruling of the Chief Justice.
He has since made a request for the matter to be heard at the earliest date possible.
This morning, Nandlall presented arguments to three appellate judges as to why the appeal should be heard with urgency. Urging the court to act in a manner that will protect the democratic right of every citizen, Nandall said that the matter should not be left lagging.
The Attorney General presented arguments to the contrary. He contended that his colleague’s arguments were premature.
Delivering the ruling of the Court was the Chancellor who agreed with Nandlall’s submission, that the matter is one of national importance. Chancellor Cummings-Edwards, however, noted that the court is mindful of other matters filed before this one.
She explained that it is known that matters of this nature are given preference over others. The Chancellor said that the Court is of the belief that the appeal should be heard within a relatively short space of time.
“We are of the view that given the pending date for Local Government Elections and given the fact that there are matters which will touch and concern the questions posed on the decision of the Learned Trial Judge, a hearing of the appeal should be conducted in a relatively short space of time,” said the Chancellor.
The Court’s timeline: Records of appeal must be filed on or before August 27, 2018; written submissions by September 10, 2018; the State will reply on or before September 24.
The court further granted leave to both parties to file submissions in reply on or before October 1, 2018. The appeal comes up for hearing on October 4, 2018.
The lawyers were urged by the Chancellor to observe the timelines given by the court.