Chief Justice dismisses elections petition By George Barclay
Guyana Chronicle
March 13, 2002

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CHIEF Justice Carl Singh yesterday dismissed the petition brought by Veronica Delph of 146 East Ruimveldt, Greater Georgetown, in which she sought to annul the General and Regional Elections of March, 2001.

When the ruling of the Chief Justice was handed down, Delph was not in Court and no Attorney-at-Law appeared on her behalf.

The only Attorneys present in Court were Attorney General, Mr. Doodnauth Singh, S.C., Senior Counsel Mr. Ashton Chase and Mr. Llewellyn John.

Mr. Singh had intervened on his own behalf, Mr. Chase appeared on behalf of the Chief Election Officer while Mr. John represented Mr Manzoor Nadir.

The petition was, however, not dismissed because of Delph's absence but was the result of a motion filed on behalf of the Chief Election Officer, by Mr. Chase.

There was some history to the proceedings which was outlined by the Chief Justice.

In July 2001, the Chief Election Officer filed a summons in Chambers in which he sought from the Petitioner further and better particulars in relation to certain matters set out in the petition.

Mr. Roysdale Forde who then appeared for the Petitioner, asked for and was granted 21 days within which to provide the particulars requested.

"This the petitioner failed to do, with the result that by the terms of my order, the petitioner was debarred from relying on those paragraphs in further proceedings in the petition", said the Chief Justice.

With the Petitioner's non-compliance with the Order of the Chief Justice, in January 2002, the Chief Election Officer again represented by Chase, filed a motion in which he asked that he as well as the Chairman of the Elections Commission, Mr. Joe Singh be removed from the proceedings as named parties and further that the petition be dismissed.

The Chief Justice noted that Mr. Chase's contention was that with the Petitioner's inability to rely on those matters in the petition for which particulars were sought, her petition was doomed to failure.

Mr. Forde, on the other hand, had argued that those matters apart, there were other issues which survived and upon which the petition could proceed.

During the course of those arguments, the Chief Justice had remarked that Mr. Forde's presentation was not of his usually well prepared standard, to which Forde's reply was that he had not attended the sitting, ready to argue on behalf of the petitioner but intended to seek an adjournment.

Forde indicated that he and Mr. Shaun Allicock still wished to withdraw their representation of the Petitioner.

On a previous hearing of the petition Forde and Allicock sought leave of the Court to withdraw from the petition but the Chief Justice refused their application, on the ground that the petitioner was absent and that the application should be renewed when she was present.

Neither Forde nor Allicock was present for yesterday's ruling.

In his decision, the Chief Justice said he gave consideration to the contents of the petition minus those paragraphs for which particulars were not provided and on which the petitioner could place no reliance and he was of the firm view that there were considerable overlaps and interconnection between what remained of the petition and those matters on which the petitioner Delph could not rely.

There could be no proof or consideration of those matters without reference to the issues on which the Petitioner could place no reliance and this substantially removed her prospects of success at a hearing of the petition.

The Chief Justice noted that references to those matters were irresistible and would produce a highly contentious, heated and controversial hearing, which would be highly undesirable.

"In the exercise of my inherent jurisdiction, I would therefore strike out the petition", declared the Chief Justice.

Before awarding costs in the sum of $75,000 to each of the Respondents who appeared in answer to the petition, the Chief Justice repeated an earlier observation that the petition was not being presented with any measure of seriousness.