Guyana’s Attorney General Basil Williams is disturbed by the recent judgment of outgoing Chief Justice (ag.) Ian Chang and the manner in which it was made.
Justice Chang who proceeded on retirement leave earlier this year, came off of that leave to rule that two Government Ministers, Winston Felix and Keith Scott could not sit as technocrat Ministers in the National Assembly because their names were on the coalition’s list of candidates for the elections and were not selected for parliament.
In response to the ruling, the Attorney General described Justice Chang’s ruling as a political matter.
He said the fact that the Judge came out of retirement leave to make a decision, is in itself bound to be controversial.
“The ruling in this matter signifies a dot on the administration of justice in this country…we are going to take whatever recourse we consider necessary in this matter. What would impel him to do that? I find it unusual and it’s something we will address further,” Williams said, in a statement to the Government Information Agency.
While there is no order directing the Speaker of the National Assembly, the outgoing Chief Justice expects that the Speaker will follow his ruling.
But the Attorney General has already indicated that the ruling will be appealed.
Mr. Williams said during the hearings, the attorney for petitioner, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, was given an opportunity to make substantive arguments in the matter despite objections by him.
“I had appealed to the Chief Justice to just limit ourselves as he had no jurisdiction to proceed to hear the matter because it was not by way of an election petition,” Minister Williams explained.
According to GINA, The Chief Justice would have committed to hearing the entire matter before making his ruling and he undertook to communicate by way of notice when the Attorney General would present his substantive arguments on the case.
The Attorney General said he was not given an opportunity to respond to submissions made by attorney for the petitioner Mr. Nandlall and at the time when the Chief Justice proceeded on pre-retirement leave, the parties had the understanding that the matter would have been re-tried before another judge.
“I was informed today that the matter was for decision at 1p.m. I’m very surprised that the learned Chief Justice would purport to proceed to give a decision without hearing from me,” AG Williams contended.