EYEWITNESS: Decisions…


…from the CCJ 

Well, the last foot has finally dropped on whether or not the people of Guyana have delegated ALL the sovereignty they possess onto their elected representatives. But the CCJ has unfortunately dropped the foot into some very slushy ground, so one really can’t be sure where it’ll actually end up!! To get a handle what the Richardson case – which the CCJ just decided – was all about, one has to remember that whether a fella can be President of our fair land for more than two terms, might’ve been the QUESTION posed by Richardson, it wasn’t really the ultimate LEGAL issue!!

Unfortunately, however, Six of the Justices on the CCJ did fixate about the “question” only  – and then missed the forest of modern constitutionalism, for the tree of “Third term”!! Then again it could be that the decision of Justice Ian Chang in the High Courts – latter affirmed by Justices Carl Singh and BS Roy in the Appellate Court – flew over their heads!!

These judicial worthies based their decision, of course, on the seminal decision of the Indian Supreme Court in Keshavananda. This introduced a new doctrine into Common Law jurisdictions, that there are certain defining features of a Constitution that’re so fundamental to the delineated legal regime that if any one were to be altered by the Legislature – this would be dubbed unconstitutional! It would be like removing the ability of a lamp to give light and still calling it a lamp!! Cant work!

One of these features in our constitutions was the separation of powers. Another was that the sovereignty of the people in our constitution is never completely delegable – and as such, even if the legislature were to follow a prescribed procedure to alter one of those fundamental features – called the “basic structure” of the Constitution – then the court can declare the change “illegal”. We would then have the SEEMING paradox of a “constitutional illegality”!! It’s not that the changes cant be made, but they would have to be approved either in a referendum of the people or via a constituent assembly.

In Richardson, however, the CCJ majority explicitly refused to adopt this doctrine and insisted on mechanically testing whether the question of restricting the choice of the electors in reference to Presidential candidates – actually changed two specifically mentioned “referendum” Articles – 1 and 9 – to such an extent that Guyana was no longer a “democratic sovereign” state!! Not that “democracy” or “sovereignty of the people” might be IMPINGED, but that the test of the impact of the change was to be an all or nothing proposition! Before the change Guyana was a “sovereign democracy” and the day after the change, it would have to cease being so!!

Now even the smallest child would know that this is patently absurd!!

The question is why didn’t the CCJ see that?

…of the CCJ and race??

Your Eyewitness was floored, to say the least, by the Chronic’s headline summarising AG Basil Williams and his legal team’s reaction to the CCJ’s decision as a “Big blow to racism”. What the heck does ‘racism” have to do with the CCJ’s decision? Didn’t the CCJ majority say that a major reason for their decision was the NATIONAL consensus that led to the Constitutional amendments of 2000, which included the contentious Art 90??

Williams’ outburst, however, gives credence to those who’ve been saying all along that when putatively impartial institutions are staffed by one ethnic group they’ll have a tendency to be wary of the “other”. It’s quite possible Williams and his team must’ve been pushing the line in the Caribbean that Jagdeo and his constituency are “racist” against African-Guyanese.

And by extension, other West Indians of African descent. And muddying all Guyana!

…in Cricket

Why would the Chronic say that changing Harper as the Amazon Warriors coach was a “snub”. If they’ve been the bridesmaid so many time, but never the bride, shouldn’t the Warriors make a change?


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