Court to rule in Budget Cuts appeal case next month

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By Kurt Campbell

Attorney General (left) Anil Nandall and Attorney - at - Law, Basil Williams during the court hearing on Tuesday, October 22. [iNews' Photo]
Attorney General (left) Anil Nandall and Attorney – at – Law, Basil Williams during the court hearing on Tuesday, October 22. [iNews’ Photo]
[www.inewguyana.com] – The ruling in the Budget Cuts appeal case will be handed down by Justices James Bovell-Drakes and Rishi Persaud on November 11. This decision was made by the two Judges on Tuesday, October 22 following close to two hours of arguments by the lawyers representing the two sides in the case.

An appeal in the Budget Cuts Case was filed by Leader of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), David Granger against a decision taken by Chief Justice Ian Chang to exclude him from the hearings.

Attorney General Anil Nandlall, who is representing the Government along with Attorneys-at-Law Safraz Hussein and Ariana McLean, argued that the case presents what he believes was a ‘strange situation’.

“He was excluded; showing that it was wrong for him to be brought before the court… so what is he complaining about? No right of appeal lies in favor of the defendant in the circumstances presented… I can’t see how the defendant is an aggrieved party,” Nandlall told the court.

He went on to argue that the appeal was also outside of the High Court’s jurisdiction and concluded his argument with a call for the court to either dismiss the appeal on the grounds that it was misconceived and holy flawed or to decline jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, Attorney-at-Law Basil Williams, who is representing the appellant – David Granger – argued that any person who is dissatisfied in a case can appeal. He told the court the case was not dismissed as claimed by the Attorney General but was merely struck out.

He cited several cases to make a claim that this case was in fact interlocutory –  a legal term which can refer to a judgment, given in an intermediate stage between the commencement and termination of a cause of action, used to provide a temporary or provisional decision on an issue. Thus, an interlocutory order is not final and is not subject to immediate appeal.

Both parties following the hearing registered their confidence and optimism that the court will rule in their favor on November 11.

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.

At the hearing, Williams reminded that Granger had waved his immunity, hence his appeal to the decision. The budget Cut case is stalled on until the November 11 ruling which will decide whether the Chief Justice’s decision stands.

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.”

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