Nandlall claims AG deliberately subverted court directive

first_img– as order issued to bring Judicial Review Law into force in 2019Former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall has accused his successor, Basil Williams, of blatantly disobeying a court order issued by Chief Justice Roxane George ordering him (Williams) to activate the Judicial Review Act by July 31, 2018.Williams has now moved to issue a commencement order to bring the Judicial Review Act into force at the beginning of next year. The Judicial Review (Commencement) Order 2018 was made on August 15, gazetted on August 16, and published in an Extraordinary Edition of the Official Gazette. It has listed January 1, 2019 as the day in which the Judicial Review Act will come into effect.This decision by the AG was made even though the Chief Justice had handed down a decision after a court matter was filed by Nandlall seeking the activation of the Act.Nandlall has said this move by Williams has deliberately subverted, frustrated, and made a mockery of the law and the judicial system. “This must be one of the most striking examples of a Government’s avoidance of public scrutiny and accountability in recent history anywhere,” he opined.Nandlall has said that only the AG himself can explain the reasons for his actions. “I remain absolutely flummoxed at what he intends to gain by these unwarranted and untutored shenanigans. Maybe it is ego, or just a morbid fear of what this Act will do to his Government,” he added.Nandlall had, on Friday, filed contempt of court proceedings against Williams for refusing to comply with the High Court ruling, which ordered that he activate the Act. Nandlall had warned of the court proceedings and had accused the AG of avoiding being served a court order.In fact, in the contempt of court proceedings filed, Nandlall had outlined in his grounds that since the Appeal Court’s decision, there have been three attempts by separate Court Marshalls to serve Williams with the order since last week’s ruling, but on all occasions, they were unable to do so.In two instances, the marshalls left the Order of Court with two employees at the Minister’s office; while on the other occasion, the court officer was told that AG Williams was in a meeting.The National Assembly had approved the Judicial Review Bill since October 2010, and it was assented to by the then President one month later. However, the Act, which allows Guyanese to seek legal remedies against any public official or any statutory agency, could not have been activated without the Civil Procedure Rules, which took effect in February 2017.There have since been no steps taken over the past year to implement the Judicial Review Act. As such, Nandlall filed a lawsuit in May, asking the court to compel his successor to activate the law. Chief Justice Roxane George has granted the request and ordered the Minister to activate the Act.Williams, however, contending that the Act needed to be fine-tuned before implementation, turned to the Appeal Court to have the lower court’s ruling stayed; but Justice of Appeal Rafiq Khan dismissed the stay of execution application, saying that the Minister was trying to frustrate and obstruct the operationalisation of the Judicial Review Act.“By filing the Contempt of Court proceedings, I have placed the matter entirely in the hands of the Judiciary. Therefore, it is now a matter for the Judiciary to institutionally determine whether it will condone such flagrant violation of, and utter disrespect for, its own Order and process,” Nandall said, while noting that the court must demonstrate its ability to enforce its own orders.And while the Bar Council of the Bar Association of Guyana had welcomed the High Court ruling that compels the AG to implement the Act, the former AG said, the silence of the Bar as a collective in face of the entire travesty does not auger well. “I have done my part,” he stated.The Bar Council had said the implementation of the Act remedies a lacuna in the new Civil Procedure Rules of 2016, which contain procedures contemplating remedies under the Act.“In the absence of this Act, litigation in this vital area of the law has been stymied and fraught with a number of procedural hurdles, some of which were laid bare in the recent CCJ’s ruling in the case of The Medical Council of Guyana v Jose OcampoTrueba, CCJ Appeal No. 2018/001, where the Honourable Court declared that prerogative remedies were no longer available in Guyana,” a statement from the Council had detailed.The legal body had outlined that it had previously raised the matter of the implementation of the Act at a meeting with the AG during a July 22, 2017 meeting, and then again by way of letter dated November 15, 2017, requesting the urgent implementation of the Judicial Review Act.The Association noted that the implementation of the Act is of vital importance to good public administration in a democratic society, allowing citizens ample remedies against the State, and levelling the playing field. The Association has said it looks forward to the speedy implementation of the Act.last_img read more