Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix and Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, Keith Scott sat unlawfully in the National Assembly for almost five years. This was essentially the ruling of the Court of Appeal this afternoon as it affirmed a 2016 judgment by former Chief Justice Ian Chang in that regard. The Court of Appeal comprised of Justices of Appeal Dawn Gregory and Rishi Persaud and additional Judge of the High Court Franklyn Holder.
The panel of judges agreed with Justice Chang that the ministers cannot continue to sit in the National Assembly as non-elected members as they were both elected as part of the Coalition’s list of National candidates. Like Justice Chang, the Court of Appeal held that despite them being appointed as ministers by President David Granger to be Executive members of government, such an appointment does not entitle them to sit as Technocrat Ministers.
It was PPP member David Morian who, through Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, contested the ministers’ appointment. Among other things, Morian argued that Articles 103 (3) and 105 of the Constitution of Guyana and Laws pronouncing on the eligibility of the appointment of Technocratic Ministers do not confer Technocratic status on them as they were already sworn in by President David Granger as Ministers.
When Justice Chang had delivered his ruling, the government applied for and was granted a stay until the hearing and determination of the appeal. The Court of Appeal ruling has no effect on the ministers as the President has already dissolved Parliament. However, as rightfully pointed out by Solicitor General Nigel Hawke, the court’s judgment will give guidance for future appointments. The Court of Appeal dismissed the government’s application and ordered that each party bear their own costs.