Perreira's counsel files cross appeal
Cites 'massive irregularities' as grounds for voiding polls

Stabroek News
January 31, 2001

Petitioner Esther Perreira has asked the Court of Appeal to find that the "massive irregularities", cited by Justice Claudette Singh in her March 15 ruling, should also have been grounds for the vitiation of the 1997 elections.

The notice of the cross appeal was filed yesterday. It came a day after lawyers for the Election Commission and former president Janet Jagan filed a notice restricted to contesting Justice Singh's finding that the legislation providing for the compulsory use of voter ID cards was unconstitutional. It was on this basis that Justice Singh had ruled that the election was a nullity.

With this new filing, sources say a timely hearing by the Court of Appeal seems unlikely. A prompt ruling possibly overturning the judge's decision would have allowed for the compulsory use of national ID cards in the March elections without the need to go to the National Assembly for an amendment to the Constitution. Stabroek News understands that since the petitioner's cross appeal refers to the evidence in the case, efforts were now being made to transcribe the judge's notes. With 290 witnesses, this would take a considerable amount of time. The cross appeal asserts that the judge should have used the first limb of Section b (i) of Article 163 of the Constitution which guides judges "to determine whether either generally or in any particular place an election has been lawfully conducted"; instead the learned trial judge only made a determination on the second limb of Article 163(b)(i) i.e. "whether the result (of the election) has been or may have been, affected by any unlawful act or omission."

Justice Singh, having decided to use the criteria of the second limb in relation to the irregularities, was unable to find that the unlawful acts or omission would have affected the results. If she had used the first limb Justice Singh would have just had to find that "the massive irregularities" led to the elections being unlawfully conducted. The results would not have been a factor.

In the notice, the respondent states that "the failure of the learned trial judge to make such a declaration in respect of the first limb... was perverse having regard to the evidence... and expressed in her judgement...

"4. The learned trial judge misdirected herself on the onus of proof with respect to the burden placed on the petitioner on the general issue of whether massive irregularities affected or may have affected the results...

"7. The learned trial judge was wrong in law when she stated that she did not have any jurisdiction to ask the President and executive to demit office." The notice is accompanied by a schedule listing the particulars of irregularities, illegalities and/or forgeries outlined in Justice Singh's January 15, judgement.

The Court of Appeal, headed by Chancellor of the Judiciary Cecil Kennard, comprises Justices of Appeal Nandram Kissoon, Claudette Singh, Carl Singh and Ian Chang. However, Justice Claudette Singh would be unable to sit on an appeal of her own case.

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