Chief Justice (ag) Roxanne Wiltshire George, S.C., yesterday, delivered a ruling in the case filed by the Cheddi Jagan Research Center Inc. against the Attorney General and the Lands and Surveys Commission on the 30th day of December, 2016.
The proceedings were filed by Mohabir Anil Nandlall after President Granger ordered on the 29th day of December, 2016, that the lease for the building known as “Red House” to the Cheddi Jagan Research Inc. be revoked and the occupants vacate the property before 31st December, 2016. As a result, a group of staff from the Office of the President descended into the building and attempted to take possession.
On the 30th day of December, 2016, an Order was made by the then Chief Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards preserving the occupation of Cheddi Jagan Research Inc. until the hearing and determination of the case.
In the Writ of Summons filed, the CJRI through its Attorney-at-law, claimed a number of reliefs including that its ninety-nine (99) years Lease from 1st January, 2012, from the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission is binding and in force and that the purported revocation by President Granger was illegal, unlawful, and contrary to the Plaintiff’s fundamental rights and freedom not to be unlawfully deprived of its property, guaranteed by Article 142 of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.
The Attorney General Basil Williams appeared for the Respondents. After the relevant Affidavits were filed, written legal Submissions were ordered and done in 2018. The matter then awaited ruling.
Yesterday, Chief Justice George ruled in favour of the Applicant/Plaintiff, Cheddi Jagan Research Inc. and awarded costs against the Respondents in the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($150,000). In upholding Mr. Nandlall’s Submissions, the Court made the following findings:
(a) In the Court’s examination of whether Red House was vested in the National Trust, The Centre was not properly registered in accordance with section 15 of the National Trust Act and as such could not be categorized as a National Monument;
(b) That there was no evidence of misfeasance on the part of the Former Commissioner;
(c) The Court accepted the word of Former President Donald Ramotar that the Lease was granted by him;
(d) That the Lease was not properly revoked by the President David Granger and could only have been revoked for cause. There was no evidence as to the breach of the Lease by the Lessee;
(e) That a Lease for ninety nine (99) years created property and could not be easily terminated, and, as a consequence created property under the Constitution;
(f) The Court issued a permanent conservatory order against the Defendants not to remove items of the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre unless compensation is made;
(g) The Court did not award any constitutional relief because the Conservatory Orders granted were adequate.