Last Updated on Monday, 30 November 2020, 21:57 by Denis Chabrol
Attorney General Anil Nandlall and Representative of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) list of candidates, Bharrat Jagdeo on Monday urged Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire to throw out two election petitions by A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), Basil Williams.
Jagdeo’s lawyer, Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes said no explanation has been given to the High Court why the documents for service to APNU+AFC Representative of the List, David Granger were not dated September 18 when they were being prepared. He added that the petitioners went on September 24 to serve Mr. Granger and signed on September 25, seemingly a mistake.
“You are left with a very unsatisfactory state of affairs that the affidavit of service states the wrong date and the explanation that you are given for that wrong date is also totally unsatisfactory. It just simply does not add up and it leads you to conclude that service within time has not been properly proved,” said Mr. Mendes, a prominent Trinidad and Tobago lawyer.
He argued that such a situation is the basis for the Chief Justice to dismiss the petition. He further contended that the affidavits of service were dated September 25 and filed on September 30 but now the court was being informed that service was done on September 18. Mr. Mendes questioned why no explanation was given for the 12-day delay in keeping with the law. “So what is the explanation for the twelve-day delay? There is none given. That is not as soon as maybe. As soon as maybe if there is a delay of twelve days would require an explanation about why there is a delay in order for you to make a determination that it was in fact filed as soon as maybe,” he said. The lawyer said in explanation was provided, the Chief Justice should be open to find that none was given. He further highlighted that the affidavit of service was filed on November 11 and no explanation was provided when it was raised in October 22.
Mr. Jagdeo’s lawyer also told the Chief Justice that the affidavits “do not truthfully attest to service” because it names persons who purportedly served the documents on the respondents but they did not actually do so. He added that only one instead of three documents were served as the notice of presentation and notice of security were not served on several other respondents.
Attorney General Nandlall sought to convince the court that the APNU+AFC petitioners were acting against their own interest because on the one hand they want the High Court to vitiate the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections, and at the same time they want APN+AFC’s Granger declared the President.
The Attorney General said he was relying on a formula that the Court of Appeal has adopted to mean that the entire list of candidates is elected but, in the case of the 2020 polls, 31 candidates have been extracted to become parliamentarians based on the votes garnered. He said if the elections are declared legally invalid, all the candidates would no longer be elected. “If the elections are vitiated, not only the thirty-one would lose their actual seats in Parliament but the entire list would lose their status as elected members of the National Assembly and that must be construed as countering to and contrary with heir interest,” he said.
Moments later, the Chief Justice remarked that if the elections are scrapped by the court, the process would have to start from the beginning. “If the elections are nullified, you have to start all over again… if there is nullification, it will be nullification ab initio, as if nothing had happened. You start over,” she said.
Mr. Nandlall said it was illogical for the APNU+AFC petitioners to seek to have the Court declare Mr., Granger as President of Guyana while at the same time saying that the elections were not free and fair, were fraudulent and were plagued by irregularities. “Cleary Mr. David Granger cannot be declared president from that list from those elections so that relief is a non-sequitur as a matter of law,” he said.
Former Attorney General, Basil Williams said the petitioners, in their arguments during the hearing of the petition, intend to show that there was proper service.
Attorneys-at-Law Mayo Robertson and Roysdale Forde are expected to argue their positions on Tuesday before the Chief Justice when the case management hearing resumes.