By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Justices James Bovell-Drakes and Rishi Persaud on Monday (January 13) handed down their judgment on the appeal in the Budget Cuts case.
The two Justices who presided over the appeal hearings ruled that the full Court has no jurisdiction in the matter and that the appeal which was filed by Attorney-at-Law and Opposition Member of Parliament Basil Williams was ill conceived.
Williams had moved to the full Court to appeal a decision taken by Chief Justice Ian Chang which excluded Opposition Leader David Granger from the Budget Cut case.
The ruling concurs with earlier arguments by Attorney General Anil Nandlall. After the ruling this morning, the AG said he was satisfied with the decision and looks forward to the continuation of the Budget Cut case in the High Court.
Williams on the other hand was not pleased. He criticized the ruling stating that is was firstly very short. He also said he plans to make an appeal to the Court of Appeal within the next 14 days. He says if that fails, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) will be approached since he is confident that Granger has the right to be heard in the case.
Government had taken the Opposition to court following the slashing of the 2012 National Budget by $20.9 billion claiming it was unconstitutional.
On June 19, Chief Justice Ian Chang took the decision to strike out the Opposition Leader as well as Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh as defendants in the 2012 Budget cuts case, on the basis that, as members of Parliament, the constitution provides immunity.
On July 18, 2012, in a preliminary ruling, the Chief Justice had stated that the National Assembly has no power under the Constitution to reduce the National Estimates when they are presented for approval.
The ruling stated that in relation to the National Estimates, the National Assembly “performs a gate-keeping function, a power of disapproval is not contemplated by the Constitution.”