Prisoners Constitutional redress motion-
Judge to rule on Benschop’s intervention application Monday
By George Barclay
November 5, 2003
JUSTICE Jainarayan Singh is hearing the prisoners Constitutional redress motion calling on the Court to prohibit the DPP, the Supreme Court Registrar and the Attorney General from listing for hearing the cases of prisoners such as Mark Benschop and others before them.
The judge granted a nisi order for a writ of prohibition brought by prisoner Seetall P. Sookdeo and others. The substantive motion is to be heard on November 14.
Following that order, treason accused Mark Benschop, represented by lawyer Mr. Benjamin Gibson, has applied to the Court for the right to be heard on the ground that he is being affected by the nisi order.
Attorneys-at-law Ms Priya Manickchand and Mr. Glenn Hanoman who are appearing for the prisoners headed by prisoner Seetall P. Sookdeo filed an objection to the intervention by Benschop, which was heard yesterday.
Justice Jainarayan Singh, who heard arguments from both sides, will deliver his ruling on Monday, November 10.
In his application to intervene, Mr. Gibson on behalf of Benschop had argued that the application by Sookdeo is an abuse of the process of the Court and is a direct attack on the fundamental rights of Mark Benschop.
He said that the personal right of Benschop guaranteed to him by Article 139 (4) and 144 of the Constitution has nothing to do with and in no way impinges upon the personal rights of Sookdeo.
Mr. Gibson added, “The Constitution of Guyana by Article 139 (4) gives the applicant Sookdeo a remedy which he has refused to exploit. He seeks now to cure his frustration by interfering with the fundamental rights of others, a jurisdiction which the Constitution does not give him.”
According to Gibson, “The High Court has no power to instruct the DPP which indictments he should prefer to the assizes. The High Court is only concerned with procedural ultra vires and in terms of Article 153; the High Court could only quash or declare the procedure adopted by the DPP contrary to Sections 113 and 114.”
On the other hand the applicant Sookdeo in his affidavit in answer said, “I am also advised by my attorneys-at-law and do verily believe that the issues to be determined by this Honourable Court are:
(a) Whether the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions to present the indictment of the intended intervener before mine although I have been incarcerated long before the said intended intervener is unconstitutional and contrary to articles 40, 139, 141, 144 and 149 of the constitution of Guyana.
(b) Assuming a breach of my constitutional rights on the part of the Director of Public Prosecutions is established the impact it would have on my fundamental right not to be discriminated against by the State and/or its officers as guaranteed by Article 149 of the Constitution of Guyana.”
The applicant also asked the Court to refuse the orders sought by Benschop.