At a news conference on Friday, Shadow Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams said the judge’s decision to exclude Granger on the grounds that he was an MP and therefore immune from civil proceedings and without giving his attorney a hearing was arbitrary, unconstitutional and biased.
“It came on the heels of the allegation by AG Anil Nandlall that Brigadier Granger had refused to agree to the permanent appointments of both Ian Chang and Carl Singh as Chief Justice and Chancellor of the Judiciary, respectively,” said Williams who is Granger’s attorney in the budget case.
The opposition leader has since said the claim made by Nandlall at a recent PPP news conference was a lie, and indicated that he had set out a suggestion for the positions to be advertised with Justices Chang and Singh free to apply.
The APNU in an earlier release had said it viewed the judge’s ruling as a “calculated political move.” Granger’s lawyers had wanted to cross examine Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon who submitted an affidavit detailing the likely effects of the budget cuts, a move the government had seen as unnecessary.
According to Williams, the judge made the ruling on Wednesday without giving him a hearing since they were prepared to waive Granger’s immunity as allowed within the Constitution.
“In light of these premises APNU will not consider itself bound by any decision arrived at by Justice Chang and will cut any budget in the future where it is in the interest of the Guyanese people.”
When asked to clarify if that decision extended to all of Chang’s rulings given the recent uptick in constitutional challenges, Williams said it dealt specifically with the budget cuts case.
The judge also ruled that Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman, also named in the government’s challenge, should remain a party in the case on the grounds that as a non-elected member of the House he was not entitled to the same immunity as Granger and finance minister Dr. Ashni Singh who was also excluded.
Williams said on Wednesday that they had no confidence that Trotman’s attorney would cross examine Dr. Luncheon. On the right of the Assembly to reduce the budget he added that the APNU had been a staunch advocate of its right to decide its procedures.
“If you exclude us, in that context, how could you expect the APNU to sign on to any decision you and the AFC arrive at? So when 2014 budget comes and we believe that there are items in those budgets as in 2012 and 2013 that won’t redound to the benefit of the Guyanese people, we will cut it,” Williams said.
The APNU has said it will appeal the decision with Williams saying that may be filed next week.