AG moves to suspend Chief Justice’s ruling on Parliamentary Secretaries

Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall, SC, has initiated proceedings at the Court of Appeal to suspend a judgment dated April 20, 2021, by Chief Justice Roxane George, SC, in which she ruled that the appointments of Sarah Browne and Vikash Ramkissoon as non-elected Members of Parliament (MPs) and Parliamentary Secretaries was unlawful as it violated the Constitution of Guyana.

Nandlall has since filed an appeal against the Chief Justice’s ruling which he contends is bad in law.  Pending the hearing and determination of that appeal, he is asking the Court of Appeal to stay Justice George’s decision. A date is yet to be fixed for hearing of the stay application.

In her ruling, Justice George held that because Browne and Ramkissoon were both named on the successful List of Candidates (elected members) presented by the PPP/C for the March 02, 2020,  General and Regional Elections, they cannot sit in the National Assembly as non-elected members and Parliamentary Secretaries.

The Chief Justice reasoned that there are provisions in the Constitution or the law that states a person who was on a successful List of Candidates, but not extracted, can be appointed members of the National Assembly.

Sitting as non-elected members, Brown and Ramkissoon were not allowed to vote, a situation similar to that of technocrat ministers. “They cannot be elected members and non-elected members at the same time,” Justice George underscored, as she declared their appointments unlawful.

It was Opposition Chief Whip, Christopher Jones who moved to the High Court in December 2020, challenging the appointments.

Among other things, Jones had asked the Chief Justice to grant an order compelling the Speaker of the National Assembly to prevent Browne and Ramkissoon from sitting and participating in the business of the National Assembly.

But Justice George refused to grant such an order, stating that the Court would expect the House Speaker to act in compliance with its ruling.

Browne was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs. Ramkissoon, on the other hand, is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture.