Acting Chief Justice to rule on Red House lease challenge

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The Cheddi Jagan Research Institute

Acting Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire has set December 17, to hand down her decision in the Red House lease challenge matter.

This follows the testimony of former President Donald Ramotar who told the court that though he approved the lease to the Cheddi Jagan Research Institute (CJRI), he did not actually sign the document.

Instead, the Commissioner to Lands and Surveys, acting on his instructions did.

During Thursday’s proceedings both Attorney General Basil Williams and CJRI’s lawyer, Anil Nandlall presented closing arguments on points of law before the court.

The case concerns whether or not the 2012 lease was valid.

Mr Ramotar highlighted that leases were not granted in 2006, 2010 and before he became President in November, 2011.

It was during his Presidency that the lease was granted. Before then, the Institute was occupying the colonial era building since 2000 and Ramotar when cross examined by the AG was adamant that permission was granted for the institute to utilise the building.

In late December 2016, President David Granger gave the occupants of Red House 48 hours to vacate the premises. The Research Centre was established in 1999 to promote research into and publish materials on the life, work and ideas of late President Dr Cheddi Jagan.

The land on which Red House sits was leased to the CJRC Inc for 99 years for G$12,000 per year.

However, the coalition Administration was initially averse to the small fee being charged and had started engaging the directors of the Research Centre on the possibility of transforming the Red House into a hub for all former Presidents.

The Management Committee, which included former President Ramotar, had strongly objected to this move, following which the current government deemed the lease invalid and subsequently moved to revoke it.

This eventually caused the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre Management Committee to approach the High Court for a declaration that the lease is valid and that the manner in which the President moved to revoke the lease was unconstitutional.

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