CCJ rejects APNU/AFC application to adduce new evidence

Attorney General Basil Williams

In a stinging rebuke, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) rejected an application by Attorney General Basil Williams to adduce new evidence in the No-Confidence Motion (NCM) cases.

The Attorney General’s application was rejected on the grounds that the new evidence adds nothing of value and has little relevance.

According to the correspondence sent by the court and seen by this publication, Williams’ legal counsel had already based one aspect of his oral submissions on the premise that former Alliance For Change (AFC) Parliamentarian Charrandas Persaud was aware he was disqualified as an MP due to his dual citizenship.

The court noted that adducing further facts to establish Persaud’s knowledge of his disqualification would add “little if anything relevant at all to the sub-stratum of fact for the court’s consideration”.

“And having considered, on paper, the application filed herein on behalf of the Attorney General of Guyana, pursuant to part 9.7 of the Caribbean Court of Justice (Appellate Jurisdiction) rules 2019, it is ordered that the application for leave to adduce new evidence be and is hereby refused,” the court ordered.

The “new evidence” has to do with comments made by Charrandas Persaud during a recent Globespan live show, which Government is alleging purports to show he knew that as a dual citizen he ought not to be in the parliamentary chambers.

Persaud had crossed over to vote in favour of the Opposition’s No-Confidence Motion against the coalition Government. The application was filed on the grounds that, among other things, there was no direct evidence of whether Persaud knew that he was unqualified to be a candidate and disqualified from sitting in the National Assembly.

Attorney at law Sanjeev Datadin, who represents Persaud, has since submitted a response on behalf of his client, in which it is argued that this new evidence does not reflect the full context of what Persaud actually said on the Globespan show. The affidavit filed by Datadin carried the full transcript.

In the full transcript, Persaud recounts a conversation he had with Public Security Minister and AFC politician Khemraj Ramjattan, in which the Minister himself sought to allay Persaud’s concerns about his dual citizen status by pointing out that other persons in Parliament held passports from other countries.

As it turns out, at least four politicians have since resigned from Parliament due to them also holding dual citizenship at the time Persaud crossed the floor. They are Dominic Gaskin (former Minister of Business), Carl Greenidge (former Foreign Affairs Minister), Dr Rupert Roopnaraine (former Public Service Minister) and Joseph Harmon (former Minister of State).

On Monday, the CCJ set June 18 as the date for ruling on the three No-Confidence Motion related cases before it, as well as the challenge to the unilateral appointment of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman.
This is according to notices sent out by the court to the parties involved in the proceedings, as well as information from various lawyers involved in the cases. In a brief interview, Datadin had informed this publication that the CCJ intends to rule on the consolidated NCM cases on June 18.

When contacted by this publication, Attorney General Basil Williams had also revealed that the CCJ is looking to rule on the GECOM case on June 18.

The three No-Confidence Motion cases deal with Christopher Ram v the Attorney General of Guyana, the Leader of the Opposition and Joseph Harmon; Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo v the Attorney General of Guyana, Dr Barton Scotland and Joseph Harmon; and Charrandas Persaud v Compton Herbert Reid, Dr Barton Scotland, Bharrat Jagdeo and Joseph Harmon; the last of which deals with Persaud’s eligibility to vote in the House.

Meanwhile, the unilateral appointment case the CCJ heard on May 8 was brought by the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) Executive Secretary Zulfikar Mustapha, challenging the appointment of current GECOM Chairman, retired Justice James Patterson.

Patterson was appointed to the position of Chairman of GECOM in 2017 after President Granger had rejected three lists comprising 18 names submitted by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo for the post of GECOM Chairman.