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CCJ judges raise key questions at Jagdeo-Ally “valid votes” appeal

Last Updated on Wednesday, 1 July 2020, 11:02 by Denis Chabrol

President of the Caribbean Court of Justice, Adrian Saunders telling Attorney General Basil Williams (backing camera) “we need to make this thing work”

Two judges of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on Wednesday morning raised questions about whether Guyana’s constitution and election law can be amended by subsidiary legislation.

CCJ President , Justice Adrian Saunders posed the question to Attorney-at-Law John Jeremie, for the respondent Eslyn David. “Does that sound right to you?,” Saunders said.

That question was asked at the juncture when Jeremie was making the point that the Guyana Court of Appeal was asked for an interpretation of “more votes are cast” as stated in Article 177 (2)(b). The local appeal court ruled that “more votes are cast” means “more valid votes are cast”.  The lawyer noted that the applicant that Article be read in accordance with the gazetted recount order number 60.

Justice Jacob Wit

Justice Saunders also remarked that if the CCJ were to rule that a court can determine the validity of the election of an official before the official is actually elected, that would be the first time that the Commonwealth that would happen.

CCJ Judge, Jacob Wit queried what was meant by valid votes, and he went on to remark that that would have implications for the Representation of the People Act which speaks about valid votes. “If you give a different meaning to valid votes, that would not be within the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal and will be dangerous to do it this way,” the judge said.

The recount Order 60 provided for the reconciliation of votes cast in the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections with voters’ lists, counterfoils and stubs.

Attorney-at-Law , Douglas Mendes, for appellants Bharrat Jagdeo and Irfaan Ali remarked that “it will amend the constitution.”