Government has indicated that it will, tomorrow, be challenging the court order prohibiting the Carvil Duncan tribunal from continuing its work.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon told media operatives during Friday’s post-Cabinet press briefing that the High Court’s order was served at a time when the tribunal completed all its hearings.
But even though the tribunal completed all its hearings, the High Court’s order is preventing the body from handing over its report to President David Granger, who had established the tribunal to investigate and recommend whether the embattled trade unionist should remain seated on several constitutional posts.
Harmon explained that the only thing left to do is for the Commissioners to submit its findings to the President but the High Court’s order is prohibiting them from embarking on this final step.
“We are a law abiding Government and since there is an order of court, we respect the order of court,” Harmon stated. Nonetheless, he said the attorneys representing the State in the matter will be moving to the Court on Monday to challenge the order. “The attorneys representing the State will be given sufficient instructions to move to the court to have that order vacated so the work of the Commission can be concluded,” Harmon said.
Justice Franklin Holder ordered the suspension of the tribunal on the grounds that it was established based upon unconstitutional advice offered by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo. According to the court documents, the High Court found that the Prime Minister’s advice to establish to tribunal was tendered unconstitutionally, unlawfully, illegally, prematurely, prejudicially, contrary to the rules of natural justice, arbitrarily, capriciously and in breach of Duncan’s legitimate expectation and is therefore null, void and of no effect.
Duncan, through his Attorney Anil Nandlall, challenged the work of the tribunal on the grounds that there is no lawful basis for its establishment since there are criminal proceedings pending in the Magistrates’ Courts and therefore, the principle “innocent until proven guilty” should be applied.
“To establish a tribunal to investigate his removal from office on the mere institution of a charge before the determination of any guilt is (an) infraction of that constitutional protection, which guarantees him innocent until proven guilty,” Nandlall had contended. Duncan was charged and placed before the courts over an alleged theft of monies from the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Inc.
He was placed on $1 million bail last February after he appeared at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts, charged with larceny after he pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Police alleged that on March 31, 2015, at Georgetown, he stole $984,900; property of GPL.
It is alleged that he conspired with GPL’s then Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Aeshwar Deonarine to steal $984,900; property of the power company and that he conspired with Deonarine to commit another felony – namely he conspired to steal $27,757,500, property of the utility company.
In light of these events, Duncan claimed that President Granger and Minister Harmon offered him a “financial package” to vacate his posts as Chairman of the Public Services Commission and effectively, as ex-officio member from the Judicial Service Commission and the Police Service Commission, as well as the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Board.
Duncan rejected their offer and denied reports that Nagamootoo dispatched a letter to him asking him to justify why a tribunal ought not to be established to determine his removal.
Government claims that Duncan’s failure to respond to the letter which they insisted was dispatched, resulted in the decision by the President to set up the tribunal.