Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo said President David Granger’s apparent failure to heed the advice of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and appoint several judges to the Court of Appeal and High Court is feeding perception that the Guyanese leader prefers to await the advice of a new commission when it is appointed.
“The Leader of the Opposition adverted to a public perception that the delay in acting upon the recommendations of the Judicial Service Commission is deliberate and intended to await a differently constituted Judicial Service Commission, which may not have confidence in the recommendations of their predecessors,” Jagdeo’s office said in a statement following consultations with the Guyanese leader Wednesday night.
Those constitutionally required talks ended with the President deciding to appoint Justice Yonnette Cummings-Edwards acting Chancellor and Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire acting Chief Justice pending the consideration of several applications by a panel of former judges.
In a statement issued following talks with Granger, Jagdeo said the appointment of the Chancellor and Chief Justice would be insufficient because the Court of Appeal still requires more judges. The Opposition Leader noted that it is now more than one year since the JSC unanimously recommended in February 2016 that Justice Mr. Rishi Persaud and Justice Ms. Dawn Gregory be appointed to the Court of Appeal and Mr. Sandil Kissoon and Ms. DamoneYounge, Attorneys-at-Law, be appointed as Puisne Judges.
“He reminded the President that the President has no alternative but to act upon recommendations made by the Judicial Service Commission,” said the statement issued by the Opposition Leader’s Office.
Jagdeo reportedly emphasised that equal urgency attaches to both sets of appointment because there is currently no sitting Judge in the Court of Appeal, a three member Court. “Certainly the appointment of a person to act in the position of the Chancellor alone will not fill the critical void which currently exists in that Court,” the Opposition Leader said.
He also pointed out that the delay in elevating the two Judges to the Court of Appeal as recommended by the JSC for over a year, “places them at a comparative disadvantage in respect of seniority.”
The Leader of the Opposition also enquired whether the recommendations of the JSC would be implemented at the same time when these acting appointments will take place.
Jagdeo’s office said President Granger promised to address his concerns at a meeting scheduled for March 8, 2017 at 5PM.
The Ministry of the Presidency quoted Minister of State, Joseph Harmon as saying that the posts of Chancellor and Chief Justice were advertised and applications have been received as recommended by President Granger.
Harmon said a former Justice of Appeal, Ms. Claudette Singh, Mr. James Patterson, and Mr. Harold Lutchman are to submit a report to the President who will in due course, make his decision on the matter.
That report and the information derived from the interview process will be submitted to the Leader of the Opposition, according to the Minister of State. “We will have to have consultations so at that point the Leader of the Opposition will be invited to consultations… That process also requires that he be given in advance the names of the persons who are proposed, the Curriculum Vitae of those persons and all information, which we will have at our disposal and that information will come out from the interviewing process, which took place recently. So we will submit all of that information to the Leader of the Opposition so that he will recognise that the choice which was made was a good one and I’m sure, will find his agreement,” the Minister of State said.