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…accepts Silk from President despite railing against it
Less than an hour after the High Court ruled that the President of Guyana has the powers to confer on members of the Bar the dignity of Senior Counsel, Attorney Timothy Jonas presented himself to President Irfaan Ali to be conferred with Silk.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall and Jamela Ali were also conferred as Senior Counsel on Thursday afternoon at State House.
When the announcement was initially made by the Office of the President, Jonas indicated that he would have awaited the decision of the Court before he accepts the appointment.
Thursday’s ruling was handed down by Justice Nareshwar Harnanan via a virtual hearing.
Jonas, in a Fixed Date Application (FDA) filed in the High Court in August, 2020, requested an order of certiorari directed to the Attorney General, as the legal custodian of the State, to quash the appointments made by former President David Granger on December 31, 2019 of Attorneys, Jameela Alli, Roysdale Forde, Mursaline Bacchus, and Stanley Moore as Senior Counsel (S.C).
Among other things, Jonas called for the decision by the President to be deemed entirely void and of no legal effect by the Court. Jonas stated further that as the President and a member of the Executive, Granger’s decision to appoint Senior Counsel trespasses into the realm of the judiciary and violate Article 122 (A) of the Constitution of Guyana which expresses the doctrine of the separation of powers.
But Justice Harnanan, in turning down an application by Attorney-at-Law Timothy Jonas, said that the Head of State has the prerogative to confer members of the Bar with the dignity of Senior Counsel. “…This Court is of the view that the authorities demonstrate conclusively that by virtue of a mixture of the application of the Common Law, the provisions of the Civil Law and the provisions of the Republic Act, there exists a place for the exercise of the general prerogative powers, which have been reposed in the President of Guyana. This Court also agrees conclusively with the contention that there existed and continues to exist a prerogative power in the Crown recognized by law to appoint or confer upon members of the practicing Bar the status of Senior Counsel. That power by virtue of Section 4 of the Republic Act was transferred and vested in the President as the Head of State of Guyana, therefore, the President of Guyana had and continues to this day to have the power to appointment members of the Bar to the dignity of Senior Counsel,” the High Court judge ruled.
Jonas, through his Attorney Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran, had argued that the appointment of Senior Counsel by the President trespasses on the separation of powers, and infringes on the independence of the Bar but these arguments were also rejected by Justice Harnanan.
“This Court is of the view that there is no nexus between the appointment of Senior Counsel by the President as he or she is empowered to so do on their prerogative, as indicated earlier, and the contention that the independence of the judiciary is some how compromised by such an appointment or further that it is somehow an intrusion into the remit of the judiciary by the Executive.
The appointment in no way directs any judicial officer how he or she must treat the appointee when they appear before the Court,” the Judge stated.