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Full Court can’t hear appeal on Opposition Leader’s exclusion from Budget case

The High Court

The Full Court Monday morning ruled that it has no jurisdiction to hear an appeal on whether Opposition Leader, David Granger should be party to the State’s case on whether the opposition can cut the National Budget.

While Attorney General, Anil Nandlall said the way was now clear for Chief Justice, Ian Chang to deliver his final judgment on the matter, Granger’s lawyer- Basil Williams said he would be taking the matter to the Court of Appeal within 14 days.

“We are going to appeal because we are convinced that we are correct,” he said. Alluding to the decision by the opposition-controlled 65-seat House to cut the estimates of expenditures, Williams suggested that decision could not be changed by the court. “The parliament is an independent parliament. When the parliament makes a decision it should stand but if the loser feels that they should go the court, the court cannot only hear the loser and shut out the winner.”

Asked why Granger’s lawyers did not go to the Court of Appeal rather than the Full Court, he explained that the matter was still ongoing before the Chief Justice and so it was still interlocutory.

He noted that in its very short judgment, the Full Court did not address key matters such as the right to a fair hearing and the question of waiving of jurisdiction. Williams indicated that the majority status of the opposition was at the political ether the Opposition Leader could be removed from the case.

Accompanied by Justice Rishi Persaud, Justice James Bovell-Drakes read the estimated five-minute long ruling that in effect states that the Full Court is “without jurisdiction to hear the appeal.” He said the appeal to the Full Court was “misconceived” and could not be entertained.

Speaking with reporters after the ruling, the Attorney General reiterated that Chief Justice Ian Chang’s decision that Granger and Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh should not be party to the budget case was a final order by the High Court that could only be appealed to the Court of Appeal.

The substantive case being heard by the Chief Justice challenges the Opposition’s decision to cut the 2012 national estimates of revenue and expenditure.