Breaking: PPP’s appeal on ruling of GECOM Chairman’s appointment dismissed

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The appeal case of People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Executive Secretary Zulfikar Mustapha challenging the unilateral appointment of retired Justice James Patterson as Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman has been dismissed by, so far, two of the three judges presiding over the case.

Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards and fellow Appeal Court Justices Dawn Gregory and Rishi Persaud are presiding over the matter.

The PPP was seeking to have the Court reverse the June 2018 High Court ruling by acting Chief Justice Roxane George, SC, who upheld Justice Patterson’s unilateral appointment.

In October last year, the PPP’s Executive Secretary filed the injunction to have the court rescind Justice Patterson’s appointment which came days after his appointment.

However, Justice George on June 8, 2018, ruled that the Constitution of Guyana allows for the President to unilaterally appoint someone to fill the position of GECOM Chair.

The PPP had argued that the retired Judge was unqualified for the post, and had petitioned the court to order the President to choose a person from the 18 names submitted by the Leader of the Opposition Dr Bharrat Jagdeo.

The acting Chief Justice, in her ruling, had, however, stated that there was nothing before the court to support a finding that the President had acted unlawfully or irrationally in resorting to the proviso to Article 161(2); and there is nothing to rebut the presumption that Justice Patterson is qualified to be appointed to the post of Chairman of GECOM.

According to the acting Chief Justice, the Opposition did not produce evidence to support the contention that Patterson was unqualified for the position. She outlined in her ruling that the President should have given reasons for his rejection of the 18 nominees submitted by the Opposition Leader.

In their appeal, Attorney-at-law Anil Nandlall, on behalf of his client, said that the learned Chief Justice misconstrued and misinterpreted the role of the Leader of the Opposition in Article 161 (2) of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and as such, was asking the court to overturn the High Court ruling.

The two appeal Judges Justice Gregory and Justice Persaud upheld the acting Chief Justice’s ruling.

Justice Cummings-Edwards was at the time reading her interpretation.

More details on the ruling and comments from the PPP on the outcome will follow in a subsequent report.

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