Lawyers up pressure to have 2nd election petition thrown out

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L-R: Douglas Mendes and Anil Nandlall [Guyana Chronicle photo]
By: Jarryl Bryan

Attorney General Anil Nandlall and Trinidad Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes today upped the pressure for the second election petition filed by the APNU/AFC, to be thrown out on the basis of its defective service.

Nandlall and Mendes are seeking to have this petition thrown out by acting Chief Justice Roxane George, on the basis of it not being served on former President David Granger within the prescribed time set out in the National Assembly (Validity of Elections) Act.

But last week, Granger’s legal team made efforts to extricate him from the case by using the Validity of Elections Act and gave notice that he would not be contesting the petition.

In his oral submissions to the court today, Nandlall argued that by using this Act, Granger himself has acknowledged that he is a properly named party in the case.

Section 27 (2) of the Validity of Elections Act states “A respondent who has given the prescribed notice that he does not intend to oppose the petition or for whom any person has been substituted shall not be allowed to appear or act as a party against the petition in any proceedings thereon.”

“A respondent, your honour, must mean a properly named respondent. So, by filing that notice to say that he is not opposing that petition, Mr. Granger has implicitly or rather, expressly accepted that he is a properly named respondent. That is what the section gives him the power to do,” Nandlall argued.

“Any of the named respondents, including Bharrat Jagdeo or anyone else, have an option in the law to choose not to oppose the petition. And Mr. Granger has exercised that option. Mr. Granger cannot contend that he is not a proper party in the petition and then use a mechanism in the act that is directed to proper respondents. He cannot have it both ways, your honour.”

In addition, Nandlall noted that for a party with so much at stake in the case to absent himself would go against the very principles of natural justice.

The point was reinforced by Mendes, who argued that Granger is a proper party, since the petition concerns him and the party he leads and would lead to their loss of 31 seats in the National Assembly. He also dived into why the petition is defective.

According to Mendes, the affidavit of service has the wrong date and the explanation does not add up. He noted that service within time is yet to be proven and as such, she should dismiss the petition

“Your honour, you raised the question of service on the 22nd of October. It should have bene apparent to everyone why you were raising it, because it was out of time. One would have expected that if an error was made in the affidavit, either you would have been told right away that there is an error and they would correct it and within a very short period of time affidavits would have been filed correcting the issue of service.”

But it was not until we filed an application asking the petition be dismissed and another 12 days elapsed before an affidavit was filed seeking to correct the date of service,” Mendes argued before the court.

Oral arguments were also heard from Attorneys-at-Law Kashir Khan and Senior Counsel Basil Williams.

At the end of this, the Chief Justice adjourned the case until tomorrow morning, at 9:30hrs, for continuation of oral arguments from Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde and Mayo Robertson.