Following a request to quash the overruling of a no-case submission in the state’s theft case against former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, Chief Justice Roxanne George is to rule on whether she has jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Nandlall’s lawyers delivered arguments this morning. They had previously filed an appeal asking the High Court to quash a ruling of Magistrate Fabayo Azore to overrule a no-case submission in the case in which Nandlall is accused of stealing law reports from the state.
The Chief Justice has fixed January 03, 2019 for ruling, but not after hearing arguments from the state which is being represented by attorney-at-law Leslyn Noble. Earlier this month, the Chief Justice had instructed Nandlall’s lawyers to address the court on certain legal issues that were raised. Those issues were vetted this morning by Senior Counsel Neil Boston and a team of junior lawyers.
It was on November 23, 2018, that Senior Magistrate Fabayo Azore called on Nandlall to lead a defence on the charge. It is alleged that between May 18, 2015 and May 29, 2015, being a bailee and in the then capacity of Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, he fraudulently converted 14 Commonwealth Law Reports valued at $2,313,853, property of the Ministry of Legal Affairs, to his own use and benefit.
Magistrate Azore had overruled a no-case submission made by Nandlall’s lawyers. However, Nandlall is contending, among other things, that the magistrate erred in law when she overruled the submission of his lawyers that the offence of “Larceny by a Bailee contrary to Section 165 of the Criminal Law Offences Act, Chapter 8:01” is an offence unknown to the Laws of Guyana.
The magistrate, the lawyers further contend, failed/refused to give any sufficient reason for her judgment as required by the Judicial Review Act Chapter 3:06 and that her ruling is contrary to, and in violation of, Articles 40, 144(4) and 149(d) of the Constitution of Guyana.
The lawyers are asking the High Court to quash the magistrate’s ruling since it is unlawful, illegal, without and in excess of jurisdiction, erroneous in law, unreasonable, null, void, and of no effect. After pleading not guilty to the charge, Nandlall was released on self bail. He is scheduled to re-appear before Magistrate Azore on January 25, 2019.
Nandlall was charged after the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), an arm of the Guyana Police Force conducted its investigation. Nandlall was reported as saying that he agitated for the State to pay for the Law Reports when he took up office as Attorney General.
Nandlall had told the media that the arrangement received the blessings former President Donald Ramotar.
But SOCU is contending since the Law Reports were bought with State funds they cannot be Nandlall’s property. The Ministry of Legal Affairs had said that there is no evidence of such an agreement between Nandlall and the former Head of State.