Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 April 2017, 18:52 by Denis Chabrol
The High Court on Tuesday blocked Guyanese police from seizing several lawbooks from former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall after he moved to the courts to prove that the reading material is his personal property.
He said in court documents that he opted for legal recourse after agents of the Guyana Police Force’s SOCU questioned him Monday and threatened to enter his premises to seize the 15 Commonwealth Law books. “The Applicant was informed by officers of the Special Organized Crime Unit of the Ministry of the Presidency and do verily that they intend to raid his home to seize and detain the said Commonwealth Law Reports which are the subject of these proceedings,” his lawyers said in court document. They also said Nandlall feared that his fundamental right not to be deprived of property is or likely to be contravened without the prompt payment of adequate compensation.
The order was granted by Chief Justice, Roxanne George after she perused the application and accompanying documents including an agreement that Nandlall said he had struck with then President Donald Ramotar for government to take over his personal subscription to Lexis Nexis.
In an exhibit submitted to bolster his case Nandlally included a letter that former President Donald Ramotar wrote the Auditor General of Guyana on November 16, 2015 stating that “I hereby confirm that as part of his conditions of service as Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, it was agreed that the Government of Guyana, through the Ministry of Legal Affairs, will assume and continue the payment of certain subscriptions for Mr. Mohabir Anil Nandlall, for professional books and journals which were in existence prior to his appointment.”
The Conservatory Order states that an “interim Conservatory Order be and is hereby granted preventing and/or restraining officers and/or agents from the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) and/or the Guyana Police Force of the State of Guyana from seizing and/or detaining the property of the Applicant, that is, fifteen (15) Commonwealth Law Reports for the years 2012 to May, 2015, in the possession of the Applicant.”
The Guyana Police Force has 14 days within which to apply for the order to be varied or set aside.
Attorney-at-Law, Manoj Narayan said he moved to the court without notice because Nandlall has been given no prior notice by the officers, servants and/or agents of the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) or any other investigative arm of the State of Guyana of its intention to either investigate him about the Commonwealth Law Reports or the seizure, detention and/or confiscation of those items. The lawyer said the his client only discovered on the morning of the 24th of April, 2017, that officers from SOCU are seeking to either interrogate or arrest him in respect of the said Commonwealth Law Reports and that before moving to the High Court he submitted himself for questioning to SOCU and officers thereof were demanding that he either deliver the said Commonwealth Law Reports or that they will go to his residence and seize and detain them. He said giving notice of this application to the Respondent will cause delay in obtaining the reliefs sought herein and expose the Nandlall’s property to the unlawful, arbitrary and unconstitutional seizure, detention, deprivation and/or confiscation of his property.
Court papers in favour Nandlall state that the Auditor General did not find anything questionable about the law books arrangement, and that the matter was never raised by the Public Accounts Committee.