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Former President David Granger is calling purported statements made by Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Anil Nandlall SC, that his administration did not consult the Opposition on the appointment of Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chief Justice, “mistaken, misleading and unrelated to the facts.”
In a press release Granger said he noted an article published by the Department of Public Information (DPI) on 10th September 2022, quoting the AG as stating that A Partnership For National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) administration did not initiate a process for the substantive appointments of Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chief Justice.
Evidence of another meeting with President Granger and Opposition Leader Jagdeo (Nandlall is partially shown)
In the said article Nandlall was further stated “President Granger not once ever attempted to engage the Leader of the Opposition, Bharat Jagdeo, from 2015 to 2020, in respect of securing an agreement for the persons acting in the office of Chief Justice and the office of Chancellor…’’
Granger wants it to be known the AG has provided inaccurate information. According to him, contrary to the Attorney General’s claims, [he] did initiate a series of at least six consultations starting in December 2015 and continuing in 2017 and 2018. “The DPI article, if it quoted the Attorney General correctly, is mistaken, misleading and unrelated to the facts.”
As President, Granger said he did engage in meaningful consultations with then Opposition Leader, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, in the presence of Nandlall or Ms Gail Texeira and in accordance with the Constitution of Guyana to secure an agreement on the appointment of the Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chief Justice.
Article 127 (1) of the Constitution of Guyana states “The Chancellor and the Chief Justice shall each be appointed by the President, acting after obtaining the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition.”
Granger said he submitted names of eminent judges to the Leader of the Opposition for his agreement to be appointed, contrary to the AG’s claim. “All nominees were rejected and subsequent meetings to further advance consultations were boycotted.”
According to the release, Granger said he did all that was required of him in accordance with the Constitution to address the matter of substantive appointments for the Chancellor and Chief Justice but efforts were made by the Opposition to frustrate the process, which has resulted in the present situation.
Guyana is still without a substantive Chancellor and Chief Justice. Several calls by civil society, including the Bar, locally and regionally, to have substantive appointments have seen no success.
As recently as last April Justice Adrian Saunders, President of the CCJ called for the substantive appointment of the two positions no later than year end. Making the case at Guyana Bar Association event Saunders said: “There is one significant blot on an otherwise impressive Guyanese legal and judicial landscape. For the country to have not appointed a Chancellor for 17 long years is very disappointing; likewise, to be without an appointed Chief Justice for several years. As the President of your final court, I believe I have a right and a duty publicly to express the view that Guyana should not let this year pass and not remedy this regrettable situation.”
Presently Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire S.C is acting Chief Justice and justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards is acting Chancellor of the Judiciary,
In June, Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Aubrey Norton, dispatched a letter to President Irfaan Ali indicating his proposal for Cummings-Edwards and George-Wiltshire to be confirmed in their substantive posts.
Announcing that as Leader of the Opposition he has fulfilled his constitutional responsibility, since all that was needed to make the appointments substantive was “agreement.” A principal reason Norton gave for the appointment of the two is that over the years they have demonstrated impartiality through their rulings.
Earlier this month the President did inform that he is still to decide whether he will nominate the two substantive holders to their positions.