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High Court rules it can hear Red House lease revocation case

FILE PHOTO: After President David Granger announced the revocation of the lease of Red House to the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre, center volunteers and officials have begun packing up books and other material written by the PPP’s late Founder-Leader, Dr. Cheddi Jagan.

The High Court on Friday ruled against Attorney General, Basil Williams and said it has jurisdiction to hear a constitutional case about the revocation of a lease of Red House by the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre Inc.

The decision was made in chambers by acting Chief Justice, Yonette Cummings-Edwards against Williams and the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission.

“The court ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the matter, that the issue of non-disclosures which was alleged by the Attorney General is not a matter that goes to jurisdiction, that the question of presidential immunity is- while the president is immune from the curial process, the president’s acts are not immune- and in any event that does not go to jurisdiction. Those are matters which are going to be ventilated at the hearing of the matter,” lawyer for the Cheddi Jagan Research Centere, Anil Nandlall told reporters.

He said the matter comes up on April 12 and 21 for arguments to be heard on the substance of the affidavits after which the Attorney General is expected to file an answer within seven days. Nandlall may reply if necessary.

Ministry of the Presidency workers fetching away the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre’s sign after pulling it down from the front of the building.

Nandlall, a former Attorney General, said the High Court ruled that the validity of the lease issued to the Centre cannot be questioned at this preliminary stage of the proceedings and that issue must be determined at the trial of the case and this issue cannot affect the jurisdiction of the Court

Attorney General Williams told reporters that the effect of the acting Chief Justice’s ruling is that President David Granger has been stripped of constitutionally enshrined immunity. “The court has ruled that it has jurisdiction. In effect it means that the president has no immunity at this time because you would recall that the only application before the Chief Justice is an application in which they averred that they verily believe that the president ordered revocation of the lease to Red House,” said Williams.

He said the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre ought not to have brought civil action against the President and the Land and Surveys Commission because any act by that entity is under the authority of the president. “if you move against the act of the Lands and Surveys, you are actually moving against the President through the backdoor,” the Attorney General said.

The Cheddi Jagan Research Centre is challenging President Granger’s revocation of its lease to the heritage building located on High Street, Kingston. Former President Donald Ramotar has said that while he was in office, he had authorised and sanctioned the lease of Red House to the centre.

 

Pending the hearing and outcome of the matter, the High Court has effectively froze government’s attempt to take control of the property from December 31, 2016 or touching or removing any artifact therein.

 

Police, armed with rifles, continue to be stationed inside the Red House compound.  Except for some furniture and other items, the Centre has removed all of the works and other significant items about Cheddi Jagan, a former president and co-founder of the first mass-based political organisation, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).

  • Emile_Mervin

    The President bungled this case, as he has others, because he was poorly counseled by Basil Williams.

    The revocation of the lease to the CJRC should have been placed in writing, giving the CJRC three to 6 months notice, followed by court petition to seek redress if the CJRC failed to move voluntarily.

    Additionally, the AG is publicly opining that the acting CJ stripped the President of constitutionally enshrined immunity, whereas the former AG is publicly opining that the President does have constitutionally enshrined immunity, but not his actions. So the court has jurisdiction to address the President’s actions.

    Anyone who is keeping count will admit Nandlall is beating Williams on punches landed, which makes it very disconcerting that Williams could be the lead attorney before the CCJ on presidential term limits.

    Time to name Nigel Hughes as the new Attorney General?

    • rs dasai

      Emile
      What is of more importance is that ‘Armed Police’ are stationed outside the building. Why?

      • Emile_Mervin

        As a landlord, I can tell you, I cannot physically evict a tenant, including throw the tenant’s personal items out the apartment. There is a thing called due process, and when due process is not followed, the law takes its course.

        Agents, acting on behalf of the Coalition or its officials, showed up at Red House and started engaging in removing items belonging to the CJRC. That was illegal. As a result, armed police officers are securing the place against misguided elements.

        This does not mean that the PPP did the right thing taking an iconic landmark with cultural significance and basically giving it to the PPP, in the name of Cheddi Jagan.

        • rs dasai

          Emile
          I agree with you, but the GVt is not following due process. I say let the law takes its course.

        • Col123

          Reports of agents wearing shirts with emblem from the office of the Presidency,tore down the signs from the building…. the PPP ites got belly wuk seeing the broken sign with Jagan’s name,in the dirt.

          • rs dasai

            Col
            Dirt does not stick to some persons name.

          • Col123

            Unless you’re roger mudd…got it

          • rs dasai

            Roger,10-4.

    • Lancelot Brassington

      The position of AG is one that Burnham and Hoyte never made joke with. They went for scholarship, hence the appointments of Indians and non-politicians such as Shridath Ramphal, Mohamed Shahabudeen and Keith Messiah. In addition,Fred Wills once held the portfolio of ‘Minister of Justice’. Granger opted to appoint a politician of questionable scholarship and to add insult to injury made the man a senior counsel ahead of more accomplished lawyers. Now the chickens are coming home to roost. We are seeing one blunder after another by this individual.
      Granger would not take the risk of making the very impressive Nigel Hughes the Attorney General. For that matter Hughes will never be given any position of prominence by Granger. He commands too much respect among the Guyanese people both within and outside of the legal sphere. He would make the PNC uneasy because he is black and brilliant but he is not one of theirs and he has already held prominent positions in another big party.

      • Emile_Mervin

        Food for thought!

  • Col123

    Guyana with its high court with those seated Indian judges giving Jaggie a third term created a lot of rukus and angst… well we have to wait and see how racist these current high judges are…..when they decide the fate of the red house!…

  • Emile_Mervin

    Jagdeo brazenly engaged in excesses because he knew of the immunity that was inherited from the Burnham era. The Pradoville II case was one of the Jagdeo excesses. Jagdeo has to be dealt with personally and directly outside the Guyana Court for all his actions while President.

  • Col123

    You can believe these crooks in opposition and those running the country… I am busy enjoying the good life and hoping to have a good day at golf Sunday, with the food and drinks that follow… all with out a dime from taxpayers!!!