Mohamed Irfaan Ali
June 13 2019
With hearings completed in the challenge mounted by former PPP/C Minister of Housing Mohamed Irfaan Ali, to the validity of the 19 fraud charges levelled against him over the sale of land in the ‘Pradoville 2’ Housing Scheme, the High Court in now set to rule.
When the matter was called before Justice Franklyn Holder yesterday morning, the court announced that notices will be sent informing the attorneys involved, as to the date the ruling will be delivered.
The former Government Minister had been charged and placed before the Magistrate’s Court on 19 counts of fraud, over sale of the lands in question.
Following his action before the High Court, however, Justice Holder had granted Ali a stay of the proceedings in the lower court, pending the full hearing and determination of his challenge.
In the latter part of last year, Ali was arraigned on 19 conspiracy to defraud charges stemming from the sale of land in the Pradoville 2, East Coast of Demerara Housing Scheme allegedly at far below value.
The charges, which detail offences alleged to have occurred between the period of September 2010 to March 2015, involve housing allocations to six Cabinet members—former president Bharrat Jagdeo, Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon and Ministers Priya Manickchand, Dr Jennifer Westford, Robert Persaud and Clement Rohee—along with other persons with connections to the then PPP/C government.
In his suit which is against the Commissioner of Police, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Chief Magistrate, and Detective Corporal Muninlall Persaud, Ali is seeking a declaration that there is no statutory or common law duty to obtain a valuation prior to the sale of property.
He is also seeking among other things, a declaration that the particulars of the charges do not constitute an offence known to law and contravene Section 144(4) of the Constitution.
The section provides, “No person shall be held to be guilty of a criminal offence on account of any act or omission that did not, at the time it took place, constitute such an offence, and no penalty shall be imposed for any criminal offence that is more severe in degree or nature than the most severe penalty that might have been imposed for that offence at the time when it was committed.”
Ali wants the court to also issue an order quashing the DPP’s decision to have instituted the charges in the first place, which he contends is irrational, unlawful, void and of no effect.
The former minister is asking for general, exemplary, punitive and aggravated damages not less than $100,000; costs, and any further order or directions which the court deems just and warranted in the circumstances.
Ali argues through his attorney Devindra Kissoon that not only do the 19 charges levelled against him not amount to an offence known to law, but that even if proven, “are impossible to yield a conviction.”
He said that the conduct alleged in the charges, even if true, cannot in law meet the high standard of misconduct required to support the charges laid against him.