Nandlall ‘wasting the court’s time’
…AG says as case calling for cabinet to resign adjourned
ATTORNEY General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, has said that the application filed by People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Attorney-at-Law, Anil Nandlall, for an order, compelling Cabinet, including the President, to resign, is a waste of the court’s time and resources.
Nandlall, who had filed a Fixed Date Application (FDA) seeking the order compelling the Cabinet to resign, said such ought to be the consequence of the no-confidence motion passed against the government last December in accordance with Article 106 (6) of the Constitution.
He is also seeking a Conservatory Order restraining the Cabinet, inclusive of the President, from meeting, making decisions as, or performing the functions of the Cabinet.
The Attorney General, had moved to the court and filed Notice of Application (NOA) and laid down more than 10 grounds why Nandlall’s FDA should be quashed since it is an abuse of the court process.
He pointed out that Nandlall represented the Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Appeal case Bharrat Jagdeo v. AG & Others and had actively participated in the proposals for consequential orders to that court – the country’s final appellate court. For that reason, the Attorney General argued that Nandlall is fully aware of the orders the CCJ made in the ‘no-confidence appeals.’
On Monday, September 9, the matter was called before the Chief Justice, Roxane George-Wiltshire at the High Court where the FDA filed by Nandlall and the NOA filed by the Attorney General were heard.
Williams, was accompanied by Solicitor General Nigel Hawke and Deputy Solicitor General, Debra Kumar. Nandlall was accompanied by attorneys-at-law, Kamal Ramkarran and Rajendra Jaigobin. The Chief Justice has set September 30, 2019, for the commencement of the hearing in the matters.
Meanwhile, Nandlall was given until September 16, 2019, to file his submission in the FDA, and the Attorney General was given until September 23, 2019, to file his.
“Mr. Nandlall is fast becoming a vexatious litigant. He has come today, for the last nine months I am hearing the same argument that the cabinet and the president must resign,” the AG told reporters outside of the court.
“This learned CJ dealt with that issue, it went to the CCJ. The CCJ rejected it clearly and said that the government remains in a different mode,” he explained as he said the application filed by Nandlall is a “waste of the court’s time and the court’s resources.”
According to the Attorney General, there is nothing left to be “fleshed out” from this “simple issue” since ruled upon in June 2019 by the highest court- the CCJ. “It’s a disrespect to the CCJ,” the AG said as he explained that Nandlall and his party (PPP) keep litigating the same matter.
Meanwhile, Nandlall told reporters: “It is unfortunate that we have to resort to this kind of strenuous effort in the court to get a government to obey the clear language of the constitution”.
When questioned about his litigation being an abuse to the court, Nandlall said: “It is an atrocious contention. He should be coming here asking the court apology and going back to get his cabinet to resign in compliance with the constitution.”
The attorney explained that he is trying to get “constitutional- compliance which is the law of the land.”
Nandlall’s FDA has already been ventilated by the CCJ when it handed down several consequential orders. The CCJ, in arriving at its decision, had said that the Chancellor of the Judiciary, Yonette Cummings-Edwards in citing Hogg, the Canadian constitutional expert, was right to note that, “By convention, the government is expected to behave during this interim period as a caretaker and so restrain the exercise of its legal authority.
It is this caretaker or interim role that explains the three-month deadline, in the first instance that the article lays down, in principle, for the holding of the fresh elections.”
Minister Williams said the CCJ made it clear that Article 106 (7) also creates an avenue for the constitutional players to extend the time for the holding of elections.
“The Article goes on to state, among other things, that, notwithstanding such resignation, the government shall remain in office and that an election shall be held ‘within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine …’,” he said while quoting the CCJ.
As such, he argued that the claim is an abuse of the process of the court, an affront to the doctrine of stare decisis or rule of precedent. The court, he submitted, should not grant the orders prayed for because such an action would require the High Court to make orders which the CCJ, the country’s highest court, has already ruled on.
“The court is being asked to adjudicate on an issue that the final Court, the CCJ, has pronounced upon, and, as a consequence, the point is moot and clearly academic and a wanton abuse of the process of this Honourable Court,” the attorney general told the acting chief justice.