Court of Appeal Judge, Rishi Persaud did not begin hearing Attorney General Basil Williams’ application for a stay of the High Court’s decision and a conservatory order to preserve the President and Cabinet office beyond 90 days because mistakes were made in the appeal documents filed.
Justice Persaud, in “house-keeping” matters noted that in the matter involving Christopher Ram, the original notice of appeal is dated February 5, 2019, predating the notice of appeal which is dated February 15, 2019. The Judge indicated that was untidy more so since the cases would eventually end up at the Caribbean Court of Justice.
“You cannot come to this court with an appeal that isn’t properly filed,” the Judge said. He advised the Attorney General that “the summons needs to be withdrawn and refiled”.
Justice Persaud ruled that he had no jurisdiction to add the names and change the date on the documents, but at the same time promised to hear the matters speedily after the Attorney General refiles the correct ones.
But the Attorney General, citing the court’s rules and several unnamed cases, also tried desperately for the court to go ahead and hear the applications, saying “it wouldn’t invalidate the motion”.
The Appellate Judge repeatedly urged the Attorney General to file a new notice of appeal because the initial one did not include the Leader of the Opposition who is represented by Attorney-at-Law, Anil Nandlall. The judge said there was no need to go to the Full Court to withdraw the first appeal.
Seemingly impatient after a lot of back-and-forth arguments mostly with the Attorney General, Justice Persaud told Williams “Let’s be practical and get on with this rather than arguing all over the place”.
In relation to the second matter concerning the Attorney General vs House Speaker Dr. Barton Scotland, Harmon’s name was omitted. In that regard, Williams argued that “if one party was omitted, it couldn’t void the second application.”
Nandlall, a former Attorney General, contended that a single judge could not tell the Bench to amend the appeal to which the judge agreed. Attorney-at-Law Rafiq Khan, who is representing Christopher Ram, said the documents could be amended with the leave of the court. He added that Jagdeo and Harmon were added in the High Court matters and “then if an appeal is done, they are as a matter of right must be served. The issue is how we correct the omission.”
He asked that all of the summonses be discontinued until the appeals are rectified.
Seemingly agitated that he was not getting his way, the Attorney General said he was merely abiding by the rules. “If you all want (to) get back to the rules let us have a good look at the rules. What has this court come to?” he asked, calling on the judge to rely on his wide powers.
“This is just like Charrandass (Persaud) voting. You mobilise a whole country,” Williams said in clear reference to the former government parliamentarian, a Guyanese-Canadian, who voted in favour of the opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion that secured its passage 33-32 on December 21, 2018.