– GECOM asks the court to reject an election petition; ruling set for April 26
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) through its Attorney-in-Law, Dominican Senior Counsel, Anthony Astaphan, on Wednesday, asked the High Court to dismiss the remaining Elections Petition, 88 of 2020, Claudette Thorne et anor v Keith Lowenfield et al.
In this matter, petitioners Claudette Thorne and Heston Bostwick, in their submissions, argue that Section 22 of the Electoral Acts (Amendment) Act 2000 is unconstitutional and that Order 60 of 2020, which authorized the recount of elections, is invalid, powerless, powerless and no effect.
They also argue that Returning Officers’ Election Class Statements could not have been set aside and the actions of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) were unlawful and infringed on the Jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 163 of the Constitution.
Order 60 was created by virtue of Article 162 (1) of the Constitution and Section 22 of the Electoral Acts Amendment Act 2000, to resolve irregularities, irregularities and irregularities before declaring the results of the elections.
Responding to questions posed by Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George, SC, a Trinidadian counsel representing the petitioners, John Jeremie, SC, noted that the petitioners accepted that there were “difficulties” in the election process, including note that those “GECOM could not resolve difficulties” but by Election Court.
“The power to set aside elections, that power originally vested in the English Parliament and the National Assembly in Guyana, that power was transferred to court… it does not exist at common law, we do not could be any part of GECOM’s remit i [arrogate] for itself the power to resolve disputes and the power to set aside statements, ”he said.
In making his arguments, Astaphan referred to the case of Esther Perreira v Chief Elections Officer et al (1998), where Justice Justice Singh at the time ruled that breaking the law alone is not sufficient to invalidate election results, and petitioners must invalidating election results. experience “complete non-compliance”.
“We submit that nothing has been pleaded in this case to suggest any form of total non-compliance with the provisions … that has not been pleaded. Breach is not just sufficient, it must be a significant non-compliance that presents something, introduces a principle that is hostile to the basic constitutional principle, ”he said.
He told the court that it had to be established that the breach had such an effect that it had an effect on the recount’s conduct.
“There was no breach, Section 22 obtained its constitutional genesis and status from Section 162 of the Constitution; Order 60 was fully consistent with Section 22 and Section 162, ”he said.
Astaphan elaborated that Order 60 was “transparent”, enacted “in good faith” and was intended to remove the difficulties that prevented the declaration of final results, which had been pending for several months.
“In the face of these difficulties, what was GECOM to do? What should GECOM have done with the changing of Returning Officer and Chief Returning Officer and the difficulty in co-operating to resolve the issue, ”he asked the court.
“Literally, by the Constitution and by statute, GECOM was required to act, it had to act otherwise chaos would have resulted from GECOM’s inability due to the difficulties and delinquency it faced in declaring the final results concerning who is properly elected in Guyana, ”he said.
Claiming that there was no breach, he argued, instead, that if the Chief Justice in looking at the arguments presented to the court by the parties concerned found the same, there was no consequence which affected the conduct than the result of the recount. and the petition should be dismissed.
“Even if your ladyship could find a break, then there were no consequences that affected the conduct or outcome of the count and so anyway your ladyship should reject the petition,” he told the court.
The Caribbean Attorney further requested that the petitioners’ view that the recount had affected the election results was “wholly inadequate”.
“There must be relevant details and facts that set out exactly how that would have been done, just state that which is a vague and general statement and have not stated how it is done,” he said. In conclusion, he noted that Section 22 is not inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution because of the language of acts of Parliament which must be read subject to the overriding powers of Section 162 of the Constitution which gives GECOM discretion on how The law is to be applied to eliminate the difficulties.
“There is tremendous common sense in that legislation because obviously it would not be in the public interest for every time a difficulty arises that the Act had to be amended to confer certain powers, it was a general delegation of authority,” he said .
“They were given wide powers but these powers were subject to change to a negative resolution; if it is not amended then the petitioners were required to show that GECOM acted unlawfully in making Order 60 because there was no difficulty in getting rid, they cannot say that, they are simply incapable and unable make that statement to the court, ”he added.
Attorney-at-Law, Senior Trinidadian Counsel Douglas Mendes represented, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo in his capacity as the representative of the People’s Party / Civic Progressive Party (PPP / C) alleges similar arguments, noting that Section 22 was not overly delegated to GECOM, and that Section 22 is constitutional.
Further, representing the State, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, SC, shared similar sentiments stressing that there is a absence of relevant facts and no basis is laid in the petition to establish any grounds on which the elections may be on them. lively.
“Nothing was done out of character and nothing is being alleged anyway, what is being alleged is a sterile allegation that Section 22 is unconstitutional, not that Section 22 violates any constitutional provision , ”Nandlall told the court.
“Therefore the basis of constitutionalism is not asserted, but that Section 22 by giving what is interpreted as law-making power to GECOM violates the doctrine of separation of powers and is consistently rejected by the authorities, ”he added.
ONLY NO EVIDENCE
Nandlall further highlighted that there is no evidence whatsoever in the petition to suggest that the results produced by the recount process differ from the results of the original results of the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections.
On January 18, the Chief Justice quashed the elections petition, 99 of 2020, filed by Monica Thomas and Nurse Brennan, who argued that the elections were unlawfully conducted and / or that the results were affected or may have been affected by illegal acts or omissions.
She described the submissions from solicitors representing the petitioners in that matter as “unreasonable”, and ruled that the petition was invalid on the basis that the second named respondent, David Granger, had submitted ‘ r petition after expiry of time for service – procedural impropriety.
On February 24, the Attorney-at-Law, Roysdale Forde, SC representing the petitioners, Monica Thomas and Nurse Brennan, moved to the Court of Appeal to set aside the Chief Justice’s decision. That appeal is scheduled for Case Management on April 12.
After hearing the arguments allegedly taken by the various counsel representing the parties to the petition, Chief Justice (s) Roxane George, SC revealed that a ruling on the matter was scheduled for April 26, 2020.