Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire on Tuesday set stiff timelines for lawyers to submit legal arguments in three cases related to the no-confidence motion, and said her decisions would be made before the end of January. “A decision will be ready before the end of this month” she assured at the end of the case management hearing.
The Chief Justice also said she was unlikely to grant a conservatory order for the President and Cabinet to remain in office due to the timeframes she set for the lawyers and the litigants.
“We are going to push ahead” and decide on those “matters as urgently as possible” because “the nation is awaiting the outcome of these matters”.
Attorney-at-Law Anil Nandlall, who is representing Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, welcomed the intended swiftness with which the court would hear the cases.
Senior Counsel Neil Boston, representing private citizen Compton Reid, in challenging the validity of the no-confidence motion on the grounds of Charrandas Persaud’s Canadian citizenship, declined to go ahead with seeking an order for the government to remain in office pending the hearing and determination of the matter.
Attorney General Basil Williams was granted permission to make submissions in two of the three cases that Article 70 of the Guyana Constitution provides for the government to run its full five-year term in office.
The December 22 no-confidence motion provides for the holding of general elections in 90 days, in this case by March 21.
After Williams sought to make oral submissions for a conservatory order for the President and the government to remain in office “out of excessive caution in light of your earlier direction”, the Chief Justice remarked that “I would not have granted the conservatory order in any case”.
The lawyers have between January 16 and 25 to file submissions by which time they would return to court for oral arguments.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and General Secretary of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) were granted approval without objections by opposing lawyers to join the Compton Reid case as interested parties.
Christopher Ram has applied to the High Court to rule that the no-confidence motion was validly passed. Attorney General Basil Williams wants the court to find that the absolute majority to pass a no-confidence motion is 34 instead of 33. Williams said 50 percent of the 65 seats of the House should be 32.5 which should be rounded up to 33 and then adding one.
House Speaker Dr. Barton Scotland and Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs were among those in the packed courtroom. Others included lawyers and supporters of the government and the opposition PPP.