Did the CCJ overreach?
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Dear Editor,
I HAVE taken note of the rulings of the Caribbean Court of Justice with reference to the matters relating to the events of December 21, 2018 and the appointment of the Guyana Elections Commission Chairman, Justice James Patterson. Editor, I note as well, and commend, the Government for its position that it respects the rulings and will abide by them. There is no further recourse, as the CCJ is Guyana’s final court of appeal. It has been widely agreed that these matters are the most important that have ever been before the CCJ.

From a layman’s perspective, however, the rulings appear to be over-reaching and bordering on being irresponsible. First, the matter of over-reaching. The learned and erudite judges sitting on the CCJ appear to be introducing elements into the Constitution which are not there. This is particularly obvious with regard to the process for identifying the Chairman of GECOM. The CCJ owes the people of Guyana a detailed explanation on how it arrived at such a directive. To state the case as mildly as one could manage, it is unusual.

Secondly, in ruling that the appointment of the GECOM Chairman, the CCJ ruled that the process which arrived at Justice Patterson as Chairman was “flawed”. His Excellency President David Granger went to great lengths to fulfill the requirements of the Constitution, despite being provided with “flawed” and unacceptable lists by the Opposition Leader on three separate occasions.

If there was any flaw in the process, it would have to be in the lists provided by the Opposition Leader, which left President Granger with no option but to appoint the Chair in his own considered judgement which he is fully entitled and empowered to so do under the Constitution. President Granger acted entirely within the ambit of the constitutional requirements, and gave the Opposition Leader repeated opportunities to provide a list of names which was not unacceptable but the Opposition Leader failed to do so.

Now, in its ruling, it would appear as though the CCJ has gone beyond its remit and accorded unto itself the powers of the legislature by recommending a new process for which the GECOM Chairman should be appointed, that is, that the list of six names must be discussed and agreed upon before the list is submitted. The CCJ has no such remit that I am aware of, and is therefore transgressing on the domain of the legislature.

This is disturbing to me, and I am certain to other Guyanese as well. I note with some concern as well that only three of the five judges bothered to present themselves for the decision. I see this as a form of disrespect to the people of Guyana. In a case which is the most important before the court, two of the judges did not attend.
Regards,
Aditya Panday

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