Chief Justice (acting), Roxanne George-Wiltshire on Monday handed down her interpretation of the Constitutional requirements for the selection of a Chairman of the Elections Commission.
Businessman, Marcel Gaskin had moved to the Court for the interpretation of the Constitution, under Article 161(2), after the first list consisting of a total of six persons was rejected by President Granger.
In response to Gaskin’s submission, which questioned whether the list of persons for appointment must include a Judge, former Judge or a person qualified as a judge, the Chief Justice disagreed that the list must include a Judge.
The Chief Justice was also asked to comment on whether the President is required to state the reason for deeming the six names submitted as unacceptable. To that, she said he should state why the persons were rejected.
She also noted that the President was not obliged to select a person from the six names submitted.
The interpretation also noted that one or more unacceptable persons on the list does not render the entire list as unacceptable.
The respondents in the case were Attorney General, Basil Williams and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo. Both the Attorney General and Mr. Jagdeo’s Attorney, Anil Nandlall were absent for the interpretation by the Chief Justice.
Attorney Sanjeev Datadin who represented the Bar Association in the case spoke to the media moments after the interpretation was handed down.
Datadin said the interpretation by the Chief Justice appears in line with the Bar Association’s interpretation of the Constitution on the matter.
“The other position that was raised is whether or not he can reject the whole list or a part of the list. Our understanding of what the Judge has ruled is that the Judge is entitled to reject persons on the list but he must give reason for the rejection of those persons,” he said.
Datadin said his interpretation is that if the President rejects the entire list, then he must give reason for doing so but if there are persons who remain on the list that are eligible to be appointed, the President could exercise his discretion to appoint those.
Datadin further explained that if the President wishes a full complement of six qualified persons to choose from, then he must indicate “that numbers one or two are rejected and I would like to have them replaced for this reason.”
“I think those are the two instances that are reasonable to us. The third is whether or not the decision is review-able in a court and she said yes,” he added.
He supports the Judge’s call for dialogue and better consultation on the issue of appointment of a GECOM Chair.
Since this Court proceedings commenced, President Granger has rejected a second list and now awaits the submission of a third list by the Opposition Leader.
Jagdeo recently told the media that 10 persons have been shortlisted so far and he is working to have the final list submitted to the President shortly.