On Wednesday, the Court of Appeal is expected to hear the applications made by Attorney General (AG) Basil Williams to stay last month’s High Court rulings on the no-confidence motion against the coalition Government.
During an in-chambers session next Wednesday, Justice of Appeal Rishi Persaud will hear the submissions for applications to stay acting Chief Justice Roxane George’s rulings as AG Williams seeks to keep the President and the coalition Cabinet in office until the hearing and determination of the appeals filed on the no-confidence motion.
Former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, who is representing the interests of Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo said that the intent behind the applications is to suspend the effect of the no-confidence motion and its constitutional consequences.
“In other words, the pith and substance of these applications is to suspend the provisions of the Constitution from taking effect, that is to say, that the Government is not defeated, that Cabinet including the President, is not required to resign and that elections are not required to be held within three months,” Nandlall informed.
He opined that would amount to a coup d’état of the Constitution if these orders are granted since the Constitution is supreme and the Judiciary is subservient to it.
“Therefore, rather than expend precious time and invaluable resources in pursuing these applications, a far more constructive course is to endeavour to have the appeal themselves heard and determined with dispatch. It is this latter approach for which I intend to advocate. This will pull the tree from its root, rather than trim the branches,” Nandlall asserted.
Just last month, acting Chief Justice Roxanne George refused the government’s request for a stay and conservatory order prior to her rulings, saying that she could not grant a stay of the Court’s clarification of a decision taken by the Parliament. The resulted in the government asking the Appeal Court to stay the High Court’s rulings while it considers setting aside the judgments made by Justice George.
The first case of AG v Speaker of the National Assembly and Opposition Leader, which deals with the 33 to 32 majority that was used to pass the no-confidence motion, Attorney General Basil Williams is arguing that “there was a miscalculation of the majority of all elected members as required under Article 106 (6) of the Constitution for the Government to be defeated on a vote of no-confidence”.
Meanwhile, the second case was AG v Christopher Ram, who had successfully sought to have the High Court validate the no-confidence resolution and have Government comply with constitutional provisions to demit office and call elections no later than March of this year.
The Chief Justice had upheld both cases, ruling that the no-confidence vote was validly passed and that Cabinet should have resigned. However, Williams in his appeal is claiming that the Chief Justice made an error in both of these rulings.
In addition, appeals were also filed by the lawyers appearing for State Minister Joseph Harmon; while a cross-appeal was filed on behalf of Christopher Ram and an appeal is also to be filed on behalf of Compton Reid, the private citizen who legally challenged the validity of former AFC Member of Parliament Charrandas Persaud’s vote on the no-confidence motion given his dual citizenship status.
Last week, Nandlall had written the acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Yonnette Cummings-Edwards to have the Court of Appeal fast-track these proceedings given their national importance, touching and concerning the constitutional and democratic architecture of Guyana.