GUYANA | Appeal Court says it has Jurisdiction to hear whether election petition was properly dismissed

GUYANA |  Appeal Court says it has Jurisdiction to hear whether election petition was properly dismissed

GEORGETOWN,  December 21, 2021 - Guyana’s Appeal Court on Tuesday ruled that it has jurisdiction to determine whether election petition number 99 filed by the opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change’s (APNU+AFC) was properly dismissed by the High Court on the technicality of  late service to one of the respondents.

The Guyana Court of Appeal’s decision was 2 to 1 with The Chancellor of the Judiciary Yonette Cummings and Justice of Appeal Dawn Gregory voting in favour as against Justice of Appeal Rishi Persaud who said the court had no such jurisdiction.

In January, Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire dismissed the election petition which was filed by APNU+AFC supporters Monica Thomas and Brennan Nurse. They asked the Court to nullify the outcome of the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections, and declare that President Irfaan Ali is illegally occupying office.

The petition was never heard as  Chief Justice George-Wiltshire dismissed it completely, because former President Granger, one of the respondents, was served late. 

An appeal was filed against the Chief Justice’s ruling.

Attorney General Anil Nandlall and the Attorney for Vice President Jagdeo filed a motion to dismiss the appeal on the grounds that the Court of Appeal has no statutory or Constitutional jurisdiction to hear any appeal to an election petition that was dismissed on procedural grounds or any other reason.

But Attorney for the petitioners, Roysdale Forde argued that the Court of Appeal Act provides the right of appeal in relation to a final matter determined by the High Court. However Attorney General Nandlall on the other hand, maintained that the dismissal of an election petition could not be appealed.

Tuesday’s ruling means that the Guyana Court of Appeal could soon hear if Chief Justice George-Wiltshire’s decision to dismiss the APNU+AFC’s petition on the grounds that  coalition’s Representative, David Granger had not signed the court documents in time for submission to the High Court in keeping with strict deadlines was proper.

The Chancellor acceded to a request by People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) Representative Bharrat Jagdeo that he be given two weeks to determine whether he would appeal the decision to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). 

Thjere was no objection from the Coalition's Attorneys-at-Law Roysdale Forde, Basil Williams and Kashir Khan.

If the matter is not appealed to the CCJ, and the Guyana Court of Appeal rules in favour of the petitioners, the petition would be sent back to the High Court for a hearing and determination.

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