Justice of Appeal Ian Chang yesterday afternoon granted an interim injunction blocking the Chief Election Officer (CEO) from proceeding with the planned destruction of documents and papers from the March 19, 2001 general and regional elections.
Chang ordered that a copy of his order be served on the Chief Election Officer, Gocool Boodoo.
Chang made the order based on an ex-parte application by Basil Williams on behalf of Veronica Delph. Williams' contention is that there is an extant appeal to the results of the 2001 general elections and therefore there can be no destruction of documents until the matter is disposed of.
In her affidavit in support for the granting of the interim injunction, Delph swore that on May 14, 2001 she had initiated the filing of a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the results of the 2001 elections.
She deposed that on March 12, Chief Justice Carl Singh dismissed the petition and on March 26 she caused a notice of appeal against the judgement to be filed in the High Court Registry.
She said she was further informed that receipts from the High Court Registry and the Marshal Section attesting to the filing of the appeal were issued. Copies of these were provided to the judge yesterday.
Delph in her affidavit noted that on September 9, Senior Counsel Ashton Chase wrote the CEO advising him that since the statutory period for the holding of the elections documents in the absence of a legal challenge had expired and there was no order of the court requiring the Commission to retain the documents, then they could be disposed of and could have been since April 30, 2002.
The deponent said she was further informed that on September 16, 2002 her attorney wrote the CEO advising that the Notice of Appeal was still alive and laying over the requisite copies.
Further, checks were made at the Court of Appeal Registry but no record of the appeal could be found. Delph swore that the Registrar of the Supreme Court subsequently told Williams that no record of the Notice of Appeal could be found and requested a copy from him.
Delph said she was further informed that on October 11, Boodoo wrote the General Secretary of the PNC/R Oscar Clarke advising him that the Elections Commission would be going ahead with the destruction of the aforementioned elections documents and papers on the weekend of October 12 (yesterday). The letter, also submitted as an attachment to Chang yesterday, said that at its statutory meeting of October 8 the Elections Commission had unanimously agreed that the Secretariat should proceed with the clearing of containers with election material for the general and regional elections of 2001. "As a stakeholder, you are hereby notified of our intention to undertake this exercise this weekend", Boodoo's letter said.
Delph said she feared that unless restrained by a court order the elections documents would be destroyed doing irreparable harm to her appeal. She argued that the balance of convenience lay in favour of granting the injunction and she undertook to indemnify the respondent from any damages he might suffer as a result of an injunction wrongfully granted.
The matter is returnable for October 21 before Justice Chang.