Roxane George-Wiltshire SC
August 6 2019
Acting Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire SC is expected to make a ruling next Wednesday on the challenge by Christopher Ram to the ongoing house-to-house registration exercise.
The judge is also expected to rule on the application filed by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for her to recuse herself from hearing Ram’s challenge as well as the application made by Attorney General Basil Williams, who has asked that Ram’s challenge to house-to-house registration be struck out.
Justice George-Wiltshire yesterday heard submissions from Williams, Solicitor-General Nigel Hawke, Ram’s attorney Anil Nandlall, and attorney Sanjeev Datadin on behalf of the Guyana Bar Association, which appears amicus in the proceedings.
Subsequently, Justice George-Wiltshire adjourned the matter until August 14th, at 1.30 pm, when a ruling is expected to be made.
Ram, an attorney, chartered accountant and political commentator, is of the view that the house-to-house registration exercise is being undertaken in violation of the Constitution.
In his fixed date application, Ram’s attorneys asked the court to declare that the registration exercise is in violation of the letter and spirit of the Constitution and the judgment and consequential orders made by Caribbean Court of Justice CCJ) in the consolidated cases stemming from the passage of a no-confidence motion against government last December.
The application argues that since passage of the motion against the David Granger-led administration, neither the Cabinet nor President has resigned; nor has the Head of State issued a proclamation dissolving the National Assembly or fix a date for elections to be held within the three months as is stipulated by Article 106 of the Constitution.
While it has been government’s position that the exercise is an important prerequisite to the holding of credible elections, both Ram and the opposition PPP/C say it would be in contravention of the Constitution.
GECOM has said that while it is undertaking the registration exercise, concurrent operational activities for the preparation of general and regional elections are also underway.
Senior Counsel Stanley Marcus, in an application on behalf of GECOM, requested that the Chief Justice recuse herself from hearing the challenge on the basis that Justice George-Wiltshire had previously issued a press release that allegedly contained “certain statements which raise the likelihood of bias” on her part.
It is Marcus’ contention that the Chief Justice’s pronouncement of her interpretation of the CCJ ruling being that elections should be held no later than September 18th, 2019 – three months from June 18th, when the court would have rendered its ruling – amounts to bias.
Meanwhile, Williams argues that Ram’s challenge amounts to an abuse of process as he claims that the issues complained of have already been dealt with by the CCJ. He has advanced that in accordance with the principle of res judicata, the matter has already been finally settled by judicial decision and is not subject to further appeal. As a result, he has requested that Ram’s application be struck out.