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GUYANA | High Court has jurisdiction to hear elections case

  • Written by wiredja.com
  • Published in Politics
Featured GUYANA | High Court has jurisdiction to hear elections case
GEORGETOWN, March 27, 2020 - The Guyana Supreme Court says that body has the authority to hear a request for a judicial review of a decision by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to have a national recount of the votes cast in General and Regional elections on the 2nd of March 2020.

High Court Judge Franklin Holder, on Friday, in ruling that the court had jurisdiction, dismissed arguments by Attorneys for the People’s Progressive Party (PPP’s) General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo, who argued that the Court did not have jurisdiction.

Justice Holder also dismissed a request by Jagdeo’s Attorneys, for GECOM to provide all of the statements of poll to the Court. The matter of discovery is best suited for an election petition, the Judge said.

The PPP’s lawyers have applied for leave to appeal Justice Holder’s decision.

Holder is to decide whether to grant leave for the appeal as well as allow an application by Jagdeo for the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield to produce his copies of Statements of Poll.

Jagdeo’s lawyer, Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes argues that the High Court cannot hear the case because Section 140 of the Representation of the People Act prohibits a court from inquiring into the work and decisions of GECOM.

In the meantime, Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, Retired Justice Claudette Singh is maintaining that the seven-member GECOM can constitutionally order a recount if it believes there are irregularities in the counts conducted under the supervision of the Returning Officers.

“Once there is evidence that the electoral process was compromised then to ensure the impartiality, fairness and compliance with the provisions of the Constitution or of any Act of Parliament the commission is constitutionally mandated to intervene to ensure public confidence in the electoral process,” she said in High Court papers through her lawyer Kim Kyte-Thomas. “This means that the commission can order a recount,” said Kyte-Thomas.

On the other hand, Attorney-at-Law Neil Boston, who is representing the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield, contends that after the High Court is settled, GECOM could not recount the votes. “They can’t do that. To do that is unlawful.. There is an election court that will have to review all the evidence by the persons who were there to determine whether there was some unlawful act or omission which affected the results.”

Lawyers for the PPP Anil Nandlall, said he and other members of his legal team would appeal Friday’s decision by High Court Judge, Franklyn Holder that he has jurisdiction to hear a request for a judicial review of GECOM’s now halted decision to conduct a recount of the votes cast on March 2. Relying on the Representation of the People Act that bars a court from enquiring into decisions by the seven-member GECOM, Nandlall said the appeal might go all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

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  • Countries: Guyana