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Appeals Court decision “bewildering” – Nandlall


first_imgGECOM chair appointment– points out Judges upheld legal submissionsMaking it clear that they will carry the case to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), former Attorney General Anil Nandlall has expressed bewilderment at the ruling of the Appeals Court in the challenge against the unilateral appointment of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman.In his most recent writings, Nandlall zeroed in on the summary of the rulings of Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Yonnette Cummings-Edwards and her fellow Appeal Court Justices Dawn Gregory and Rishi Persaud.Stressing his inherent right to comment on matters of public interest, Nandlall noted that the Judges acknowledged the intention of the framers of the Constitution for the President to engage with the Leader of the Opposition in appointing a GECOM Chairman… from a list of six persons ranging from a judicial category to a “fit and proper” category.“In fact, in the course of rendering the summary of their rulings, their Honours upheld almost every submission which I made and rejected almost every contention of the Attorney General and his team of Queen’s Counsel,” Nandlall observed.“Although, they recognised this intent… yet they came to the bewildering conclusion that the President acted in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Constitution when he unilaterally appointed Justice Patterson, after rejecting 18 outstanding professional Guyanese, including, a retired Justice of Appeal, a retired High Court Judge and several prominent lawyers, qualified to be Judges.”Interpretative gymnasticsNandlall described the justification for the ruling as “interpretative gymnastics and juridical ingenuities.” According to the former AG, much care was taken to absolve President David Granger from any blame in appointing retired Justice James Patterson as GECOM’s Chairman.“You will also note that the Constitution has put in place the qualifications of the persons who are to be appointed, leaving no room for the President to inject any subjective ‘characteristics’. Another said that to mandate the President to choose from a list would lead to an ‘unreasonable fettering of his discretion.”“This is the very Judge who, minutes before, enunciated that the framers of article 161 (2) intended to replace ‘unilateralism’ with ‘consensualism’ in the appointment of the Chairman of GECOM, but who now fails to recognise that the quintessence of that ‘consensualism’ is the confinement of the President’s power of appointment to the six names submitted to him by the Leader of the Opposition!”Nandlall said in short, the ruling of the Court of Appeal is that a President can reject the stipulated list of six names submitted to him by the Leader of the Opposition, irrespective of how qualified and suitable the nominees are.He also noted that the implications of the ruling are that the President can then resort to appointing a GECOM Chairman of his own choosing, from the judicial category, once he utilises the proviso.“This ruling, therefore, takes us over a quarter of a century back in time to what existed in the 1980 Constitution, whereby the President was empowered to unilaterally appoint a person of his own choosing from the judicial category! I sincerely hope that the Caribbean Court of Justice will restore those lost years.”The rulingOn Thursday, People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Executive Secretary Zulfikar Mustapha lost his appeal of acting Chief Justice Roxane George’s decision regarding the appointment of Patterson as Chairman of GECOM when the Court of Appeal handed down its ruling.The PPP was seeking to have the court reverse Justice George’s June 8, 2018, ruling which followed Mustapha filing his case in October last year.The Appeals Court Judges unanimously agreed that Justice Patterson’s appointment was not unconstitutional, saying the President was empowered to appoint a Judge, retired Judge or someone with the qualifications if he judged the Opposition Leader’s list unacceptable.Justice Gregory in her determination opined that the three lists as submitted did not achieve consensus. Justice Persaud said too that any move towards unilateralism is wholly unacceptable and this could lead to abuse and would not be motivated by good faith.He outlined that there was nothing to suggest that the President acted “unconstitutionally, illegally or unreasonably in appointing Justice Patterson.Chancellor Cummings-Edwards, who announced the unanimous decision, spoke extensively in giving background to applicant’s case.last_img read more