By Staff Writer
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall S.C. says that he will attempt in the Appeal Court to secure a Stay of Execution to “put on hold or suspend” a recent ruling of the Chief Justice (CJ) Roxane George, until the determination of his appeal.
The CJ ruled yesterday in the High Court that the President’s appointment of People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Candidates, Sarah Browne and Vikash Ramkissoon, as Parliamentary Secretaries was unlawful. The legality of the appointments was challenged by Opposition Chief Whip and Member of Parliament (MP), Christopher Jones, who was represented by fellow MP and Attorney-at-law, Roysdale Forde S.C.
Nandlall has already filed a Notice of Appeal on the grounds that the CJ misconstrued the Constitutional provisions dealing with the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries.
During his weekly “issues in the News” programme aired last evening, the AG said that the CJ relied on a past Appeal Court ruling, which declared the appointment of two A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) candidates, Keith Scott and Winston Felix as technocrat ministers, illegal. That challenge was filed by PPP/C Member, Desmond Morian after the Coalition won the May 2015 elections, bringing to an end the PPP/C’s 23-year reign. It was Nandlall who represented Morian in that matter. The CJ, yesterday accused Nandlall of abandoning his arguments in that matter and tendering different statements in his defence of Browne and Ramkissoon.
But Nandlall, last evening, while conceding that the Constitutional provision dealing with appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries are similar to those that govern the appointment of technocrat ministers, “they are completely different provisions”. He contended that the CJ committed a “grave error”.
“They do not apply interchangeably; they are found in different parts of the Constitution and they govern different personnel. One governs Technocratic Ministers, and one set governs Parliamentary Secretaries. They are two distinct persons, and in my view, the Constitution says very clearly, that a Parliamentary Secretary can come from either the list [of candidates] or off the list, but that person must be qualified to be elected to the National Assembly,” he said.
Both Ramkissoon and Browne were on the list, and Nandlall said that the Constitution, in his view, is “very clear that once you are on the list, you are qualified to sit as a Parliamentary Secretary”.
“To me, the Constitution permits that, but the Chief Justice holds a different view and the Chief Justice considered herself bound by the Court of Appeal decision in the Winston Felix and Keith Scott case filed by Desmond Morian. She felt that she is compelled to follow that decision because it was made by a higher court,” the AG said.
He went on to say that if the CJ is compelled to follow that previous ruling, then the Court of Appeal is also bound to follow its past rulings, more specifically, the granting of Stay of Execution, as was given to former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Basil Williams in the Morian case.
“That is exactly what the Court of Appeal did when [former Chief] Justice, [Ian] Chang ruled that Felix and Scott were unlawfully put in the Parliament. They never left the Parliament. They sat there for the entirety of their term. They received salaries, etcetera, because the Court of Appeal granted a Stay [of Execution]. Well, the Court of Appeal granted a stay in Felix and Scott, so they have to grant a stay now because the Chief Justice says she is bound by previous decisions. The Court of Appeal is similarly bound by its previous decisions,” Nandlall declared.
While the litigation is complex, Nandlall said that these matters are “good”, because they help to clarify “grey areas” that exist in Guyana’s Constitution.