Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall has lashed out at his successor, Attorney General, Basil Williams, describing his attack on acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Carl Singh as despicable and unwarranted.
Nandlall’s comments comes on the heels of Williams’s criticisms against the actions of his Deputy Solicitor-General Prithima Kissoon and acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Carl Singh, following a ruling on Wednesday, dismissing a State-sponsored appeal against a High Court decision which quashed a racial incitement charge against Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo.
The private criminal charge was brought against Jagdeo by political activist and social commentator, Christopher Ram, back in May 2015.
However, Jagdeo subsequently moved to the High Court to challenge what he deemed an unlawful and politically inspired charge against him following the delivery of his historic and frank speech at a memorial service to honour People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Founder and late President, Dr Cheddi Jagan, on March 8, 2015 at Babu Jaan, Port Mourant.
“The Attorney General merely appeared in the matter for the Magistrate. He was never a
party. How could an appeal be filed in the name of the Attorney General? It cannot get more elementary than that.”
In the High Court ruling, the presiding Judge found that Magistrate Charlyn Artiga, in front of whom the charge was heard at the Whim Magistrate’s Court, had no jurisdiction to hear the private criminal charge brought against the Opposition Leader because it is legally defective and invalid and any attempt for her to so do, would amount to an abuse of court.
“The Particulars of Offence do not disclose an offence. Based on the foregoing analysis, even if what is alleged in the Particulars of Offence is proved there can be no resulting conviction since no criminal offence is disclosed,” the Judge ruled.
This decision was then appealed and ruled on by the Chancellor on Wednesday. In his judgment, Justice Singh found that the Deputy Solicitor-General Prithima Kissoon, who filed the appeal on behalf of Attorney General Williams, conceding that the AG was not a proper party to the matter; hence there was sufficient evidence to dismiss the case.
Kissoon was required to file an affidavit in response to Bacchus’s contention against the Attorney General being named in the matter along with adding Magistrate Artiga’s name to the appeal but this was not done; hence the Chancellor’s ruling.
Williams was reported in the state’s newspaper saying, “(Kissoon) filed the appeal and her concession is unknown to me; she did not consult the Attorney General and she has absented herself for the month by submitting medical certificate after medical certificate; the Judge ruled that the appeal is a nullity…and in favour of Jagdeo.”
The AG also called the Chancellor’s dismissal of the appeal a “vain attempt” to free the Opposition, indicating his intention to approach the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) noting that the case is appealable.
However, his predecessor, former AG Anil Nandlall, penned his amusement at what he calls a desperate attempt by Williams to shift from himself blame and responsibility for the Appeal Court’s dismissal of a “frivolous and vexatious” appeal case. Nandlall posited that rather than accepting the responsibility for filing an appeal on behalf of the wrong party, his successor is blaming the Chancellor and even his own officer.
“It is the responsibility of the Attorney General to inspect and approve every legal document prepared in the AG Chambers before they are filed, irrespective of who drafted it. The buck stops with the Attorney General. In this instance, the error made was most elementary. The Attorney General was never a party to the proceedings in the High Court. The parties were Bharrat Jagdeo and Magistrate Charlyn Artiga. The Attorney General merely appeared in the matter for the Magistrate. He was never a party. How could an appeal be filed in the name of the Attorney General? It cannot get more elementary than that,” the former AG pointed out.
Nandlall recounted seeing the Notice of Appeal which was filed over a year ago and immediately advised the Leader of the Opposition that the wrong party had appealed and that the case will be dismissed. He had also presented Jagdeo with reference of another case, where the Court of Appeal threw out an appeal on identical grounds.
The unanimous judgment in that case was handed down by Chancellor Desiree Bernard. The name of the case is Attorney General vs Jardim (2003) 67 WIR, 100.
“In his interview with the Chronicle, the Attorney General failed to disclose that during the hearing of the appeal, he appeared before the Court of Appeal and was granted leave to review the submissions made by the Deputy Solicitor-General in which she correctly conceded that the wrong party has appealed the matter.
Further, the Attorney General did not say that he was granted leave to make additional submissions if he wished to do so. I do not know whether he reviewed the Deputy Solicitor-General’s submissions but my information is that he did not place any additional submissions before the court as he was offered to do. Therefore, the impression which the Attorney General conveyed in the Chronicle that he was unaware of this matter is absolutely incorrect. The record of the court will bear me out if examined,” Nandlall asserted.
In these circumstances, the former AG opined that any other ruling from the Appeal Court would have been perverse. To this end, Nandlall remarked that William’s attack on the Judiciary and in particular, Chancellor Carl Singh, is “unwarranted and despicable”.
“Attacking judges who rules against him and attributing ulterior, undesirable and even racist motives has been his modus operandi for a long time. Recently, referring to a particular judge, he has been saying, openly: “we put she deh, she gafuh rule fuh we,” Nandlall noted.
This, he went on to highlight, is simply deplorable, adding that it is nothing short of an insult and an attack on the integrity and independence of our judges. (Guyana Times)