Justice Sewnarine-Beharry dismisses Misenga Jones’ appeal of CJ ruling

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Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry

Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry has upheld the ruling of the Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George that the recount results must be used as the basis of declaring the winner of the March 2 General and Regional Elections.

Justice Sewnarine-Beharry is the first of three judges to deliver their judgments in the appeal filed by APNU/AFC supporter Misenga Jones who is seeking to block GECOM from declaring the winner of the elections based on the recount results.

In addition, Justice Sewnarine-Beharry ruled that the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield can be directed by the Elections Commission to produce his final elections report based on the recount results.

Justice Sewnarine-Beharry said the CEO is a statutory officer and is subject to the direction and control of the Commission.

Citing the ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), she said it is disingenuous for the CEO to insist in preparing his report using the March 13 declarations when the Commission went ahead and established Order 60 of 2020 which gave effect to a national recount.

She also cited the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice which states that: “Unless and until an election court decides otherwise, the votes already counted by the recount process as valid votes are incapable of being declared invalid by any person or authority”.

Overall, she dismissed Jones’ application saying that it is frivolous, vexatious and amounts to an abuse of the court’s process.

Appellate Justices Dawn Gregory and Rishi Persaud, in association with High Court Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry, are presiding over the case.

Jones is seeking to overturn the Chief Justice’s decision in a case she initially filed in a bid to compel the GECOM to utilise the 10 declarations by the Returning Officers as the basis for announcing the winner of the March 2 elections.

The Chief Justice has, however, dismissed Jones’s application for judicial review on ground that the issues were res judicata, which means that they have already been ventilated and pronounced upon by a competent court, and cannot be relitigated.

Justice George had reiterated that Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield is not “a lone ranger” and “cannot act on his own”; but is subjected to the direction of the Elections Commission.

Additionally, she expressly stated that the figures from the 33-day Caricom-observed National Recount should form the basis for the declaration of the results.

In the appeal filings, Jones is contending that the Chief Justice erred in law when she dismissed the case.