Last Updated on Tuesday, 1 December 2020, 12:58 by Denis Chabrol
The opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) wants the High Court to hear the two election petitions, although Mr. David Granger signed the wrong date on a court document to facilitate the fixing a date to hear arguments.
Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire says she will hand down her decision on January 18, 2021 on whether to dismiss the petitions as is being requested by Attorney General Anil Nandlall and Senior Counsel, Douglas Mendes, for the Representative of the People’s Progressive Party Civic’s (PPPC) List of candidates.
The judge already notes that APNU+AFC lawyers have submitted arguments only because of objections raised by the Attorney General, Anil Nandlall and Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes who is representing the People’s Progressive Party Civic’s Representative of the List, Bharrat Jagdeo.
Lead Counsel for APNU+AFC, John Jeremie told the court that an affidavit has been filed showing that the petition documents were signed on September 18. But the actual papers show that the Petitioner Ms. Brennan Nurse served the affidavit of service on September 25. Petitioner Nurse says when she went to Mr. Granger to sign the acknowledgement of service on September 24, he signed September 25. Ms. Nurse says in her supplementary advice that it was not until later that she realised that he had signed the wrong date.
Under questioning by the Chief Justice George-Wiltshire, Mr. Jeremie read a section of the affidavit in which Ms. Nurse sought to explain the error. “So what are we to do with the 25th date under the acknowledgement? ,” she asked to which Mr. Jeremie responded, “it was an error milady.” Ms. Nurse said that upon returning to Mr. Granger, she saw him sign and date the acknowledgment after which she exhibited it to her affidavit “but unfortunately did not pay attention to the date place on the acknowledgement.” “Had I done so, I would have recognised that Mr. Granger had incorrectly dated the acknowledgment of service.” Ms. Nurse said she witnessed him sign that document on September 24 instead of September 25.
The Chief Justice remarked that usually persons date documents the same day they are signing and what has occurred “does seem a bit strange.”
After objections had been raised, APNU+AFC lawyers had asked the court to find that Mr. Granger is not a proper part. Another Attorney-at-Law for the APNU+AFC, Mayo Robertson says the fact remains that the actual return of service was done within the specified time frame. “That doesn’t change the fact . He was served and the team served him and that’s all we need t0 establish Your Honour,” he said.
But Attorney General Nandlall continued to maintain that under the Election Laws Validity Act, the rules must be strictly observed.
“They have the responsibility of showing and the burden of proving that they have effected service within the prescribed time. Not us, we have no burden,” he said.
He said he and his team have sought to show that the records are defective and in violation of the rules, but they (APNU+AFC) have “failed abysmally.”
APNU+AFC filed two election petitions challenging the results of the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections.