…since he (Williams) failed to appoint the Deeds & Commercial Registries Board even though he was mandated by a High Court Judge to do so
Former Attorney General and Opposition Member of Parliament, Anil Nandlall says he will be filing legal proceedings at the High Court sometime this week, against Attorney General, Basil Williams, SC, for failing to comply with a court order, demanding that he appoint a Governing Board at the Deeds and Commercial Registries Authority.
“This week, contempt of Court proceedings will be filed against him, in which the High Court will be asked to commit him to Camp Street Prison for failing to obey the order.”
Nandlall in a strongly worded statement explained that back in 2015, Williams had ‘blatantly refused’ to appoint the Governing board, which was in violation of the law.
“…in the absence of that board, he has been engaging in all manners of malicious manipulation in order to get rid of the people he doesn’t like. Therefore, you have trumped up charges and baseless allegations being laid against people whom he wishes to destroy. This Minister is prepared to destroy reputations, destroy people’s profession and destroy people’s careers in order to achieve his objectives” said Nandlall.
He posited that in his eyes, the President seems to be encouraging the AG’s actions.
The PPP Parliamentarian said that on April 19 2017, he approached the High Court and obtained an order by the High Court Judge instructing that Williams appoint the Governing Board of the Authority.
According to Nandlall, “to date, he has refused to do so. That order was served to him by a Marshal of the High Court. In addition, my lawyers wrote him a letter enclosed with the order, demanding that he complies with it. Again, he has refused to do so. Therefore, he is in contempt of court.”
The Governing Board is to comprise of representatives from the Guyana BAR Association, Berbice BAR Association, the Private Sector, Ministry of Finance, Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) and a Chairman.
This board is responsible for the management of the Authority, which is a statutory body corporate and according to Nandlall, “the whole purpose of enacting the Deeds and Commercial Registry Authority Act was to make the body regulated by a board and not subjected to political interference and direction by a Minister.”
Nandlall said that since Williams’ assumption to office, “he has refused to comply with this Act and is causing utter confusion and chaos in that institution by his interferences, which are not only unlawful but are sexist and discriminatory.”
“No one seems to be able to see the damage which he is doing. This gentleman, by his Actions and omission is singularly responsible for more than half of the problems this Government is facing…Same thing he is doing in the Judiciary as the nation saw, with respect to Justice Franklyn Holder” said Nandlall.
The PPP Parliamentarian also noted that the AG’s ‘abuse of power’ was also demonstrated in the recent situation at the Deeds Registry where the staff were reportedly threatened with disciplinary action if they continue to report to the Deed’s Registrar, Azeena Baksh.
“What is taking place at the Deed’s Registry is anarchy. The situation is caused solely by the Attorney General’s blunt refusal not only to obey and comply with the Deeds and Commercial Registries Authority Act but also his refusal to obey and comply with an order of a High Court Judge as well as the Constitution.”
According to Nandlall, “the Constitution and the Deeds and Commercial Registries Authority Act both very clearly state that the Registrar of Deeds is appointed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and she is answerable to the JSC. The ACT further provides that the Registrar of Deeds is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Authority and she is also answerable to a governing board which is established under the Act.”
It was reported that the Head of the Human Resources Department of the Deeds and Commercial Registry circulated a memo- seen by this publication- instructing staff to stop reporting to Baksh and to report to the Deputy Registrar – who was listed as Acting Registrar- instead.
The memo referred to a meeting held with the AG Williams’, where it was further directed that Baksh not be signing off on any official documents for or on behalf of the Authority as the Deputy Registrar will be doing so.
It was also revealed that following the meeting with the AG, a decision was taken to send Baksh on administrative leave. However, she is said to be on medical leave presently due to complications from ill health. Reports have also indicated that the locks on Baksh’s office have been changed so as to not allow her entry upon her return from leave.
Nandlall asserted his belief that the lawyer- Baksh- who is also pregnant, is being harassed and hounded simply because of her race, sexuality and associations.
“In relation to Azeena Baksh, this is a lawyer who is pregnant and who is being harassed and hounded simply because she is East Indian, she is a woman and she is perceived to be close to the People’s Progressive Party” he said.
Moreover, the former Attorney General lambasted several organisations for failing to speak against Government’s actions, highlighting that had the same happened under the power of the Opposition, the outcome would have been different.
“The fact that the Guyana BAR Association- an organization for all intent and purposes, is dead,- the Guyana Association of Women Lawyers, Red Thread, the Gender and Equality Commission and the Human Rights Association have been silent in the face of the abuse demonstrates the level of hypocrisy which exists in this country.
“Just imagine what would happen in Guyana if the PPP was in Government [and] the AG was Indo-Guyanese and the Registrar of Deeds was an Afro-Guyanese lawyer and being treated that way by the AG and you will get a very clear picture of what I’m speaking about. These organizations would have been issuing statements every single day” said Nandlall.