To put simplistically, if the law is on your side regardless of the identity of the litigant, you will win. If the law and judicial precedent are against you, you will lose. Justice must never be tied to political affiliation if we, as a democratic nation, believe in the Separation of Powers. That is the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary; the independence of the judiciary must be maintained at all times,” asserts High Court Judge Priya Sewnarine-Beharry.
She was at the time reciting excerpts from a ruling by former Chief Justice Desiree Bernard, as she then was, in a challenge mounted by PNC member Aubrey Norton who challenged the results of the December 1997 elections results in the High Court. Justice Sewnarine-Beharry made the foregoing assertions today when she delivered her ruling in the latest case filed by APNU+AFC against the declaration of the March 2020 elections results. The High Court Judge insisted that politics plays absolutely no role in the decision making of judges.
It was a government supporter, Misenga Jones, who filed an application seeking judicial review in which she contended that the recount process was unconstitutional, which would render the votes tabulated during the exercise invalid. But Justice Sewnarine-Beharry, along with Justices of Appeal Rishi Persaud and Dawn Gregory, dismissed Jones’ contention and upheld the ruling of Chief Justice Roxane George that the votes tabulated during the recount have to be used to declare the winner of the elections.
In fact, Justice Sewnarine-Beharry deemed Jones’ application frivolous and vexatious and held that it amounted to a further abuse of the court process. That further, the High Court Judge noted that Jones’ application raised impermissible, abusive, and duplicated litigation of issues already canvassed before the courts. The following are the excerpts Justice Sewnarine-Beharry endorsed from Justice Bernard’s judgment.
In that ruling, Justice Sewnarine-Beharry reminded that Justice Bernard said, “It is incumbent on me to stress that at all times respect for our courts and order emanating therefrom must be maintained whether right or wrongly made. Judges strive to dispense justice under severe pressures and less than favourable conditions. Very often, they make decisions which are not always popular; it is one of the occupational hazards, and we have to live with it knowing that we have decided fairly and in accordance with the law.”
“However, we hope, and I trust that I speak for all members of the judiciary that we do not have to carry the additional burden of political pressure from any quarter. We are here to dispense justice fairly and to hold the scales evenly. To put simplistically, if the law is on your side regardless of the identity of the litigant, you will win. If the law and judicial precedent are against you, you will lose. Justice must never be tied to political affiliation if we, as a democratic nation, believe in the Separation of Powers. That is the legislative, Executive and Judiciary; the independence of the judiciary must be maintained at all times,” underscored Justice Sewnarine-Beharry as she recited the ruling of former Chief Justice Bernard who has also sat as a judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).