Cricket in more legal limbo

-action filed against reform bill

The Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) and several other entities have filed legal action to prevent legislation to reform cricket in Guyana from being considered by the National Assembly resulting in the deferral of the Guyana Cricket Administration Bill 2012 which was due to be debated yesterday.

Debate on the controversial bill has been deferred a number of times before and yesterday in light of the action, Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman urged members to consider the deferment of the bill to seek legal advice and this met with

Umpires workshop: From left, Nigel Duguid, Christopher Taylor, Zahid Bassarath and Goaland Greaves in discussion. Three WICB workshops commenced in Jamaica this week for umpires, match referees and video analysts from across the region. (WICB photo)
Umpires workshop: From left, Nigel Duguid, Christopher Taylor, Zahid Bassarath and Goaland Greaves in discussion. Three WICB workshops commenced in Jamaica this week for umpires, match referees and video analysts from across the region. (WICB photo)

no objections. Trotman emphasized that the filing of the action was not a bar to the House or its ability to debate the bill. “I don’t know whether I will need legal counsel or…whether (the action) is of no (significance),” he said though he urged that legal advice be sought before proceeding.

The 11 plaintiffs including the Guyana Cricket Board, the Demerara Cricket Board, the Essequibo Cricket Board, the East Bank Cricket Association, the Eccles Cricket Club, and D.E.B. Essential Organisation Inc. are seeking several declarations. Attorney-General Anil Nandlall, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony and Trotman are named as respondents.  They have been given ten days to respond to the action which was filed by attorney Roysdale Forde for the applicants.

The plaintiffs are seeking an order directed to Trotman prohibiting him from permitting or allowing the further reading of the bill in its present form. They also seek any other or further order as the court may deem just and costs.

The plaintiffs seek a declaration that the bill if passed by the National Assembly in its present form “is likely to contravene the applicants’ rights to protection from inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment as guaranteed by Articles 40 and 141 of the Constitution of Guyana.” They also contend that the bill if passed in its present form is likely to contravene the applicants’ rights to protection of the applicants’ rights not to be deprived of property as guaranteed by Articles 40 and 142 of the Constitution.

According to the plaintiffs, the bill if passed in its present form, is likely to contravene the applicants’ rights to protection of the applicants’ right to freedom of assembly and association as guaranteed by Articles 40 and 147 of the Constitution.

They also want a declaration that the bill if passed in its present form is likely to contravene the applicants’ rights to protection of the applicants’ right to freedom of assembly and association as guaranteed by Articles 40 and 147 of the Constitution in that it seeks to create a new member of the Demerara Cricket Board and the reduction of the membership of the East Bank Cricket Association which is a constituent member of the DCB.

The plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that the applicants possess rights and or interests into and to property referred to in the bill, the said property being transferred to the GCB by virtue of the same bill.

Property

They also seek a declaration that the provision in Section 5 of the bill for the transfer of property held by or vested in any person for the use and benefit of the GCB and in which the applicants possess rights and or interests amounts to a contravention of the applicants constitutional rights and particularly the fundamental right to property as guaranteed by Article 12 of the Constitution.

They want a declaration that the applicants possess rights and or interests into and to property referred to in the bill, the said property being transferred to the GCB by virtue of the same bill amounts to a contravention of the applicants’ right to property as guaranteed by the Constitution as there is no written law authorizing the deprivation or taking away of the applicant’s rights in and to property without compensation as required by the Constitution.  The plaintiffs also wants declarations that the D.E.B. Essential Organisation Inc., a company duly registered under the Companies Act has rights in and to the property held in the name of the GCB; that the Constitution of Guyana by its structure incorporates the doctrine of the Separation of Judicial Powers from the Executive and the Legislative; and that the introduction of the bill into the National Assembly by the executive whilst there is extant and ongoing litigation on issues to be determined by the High Court and also purported to be provided for in the bill is unconstitutional, contrary to the principles of the Separation of Powers and an unconstitutional intrusion into the judicial process.

Other declarations sought by the plaintiffs include that the applicants are entitles to redress under Article 153 of the Constitution for the said contravention; that the bill is ad hominem legislation as reflected in the provisions of the bill in that the said provisions are intended to deal only with the GCB, the members of the GCB and the issues raised in the extant proceedings.

In their affidavit in support of the summons, secretary of the GCB Anand Sanasie, secretary of the DCB Lalta Digamber, president of the ECB Fizul Bacchus, president of the EBCA Rohan Sarjoo and vice-president of the Eccles Cricket Club Johnny Azeez, among other things, referred to the decision of Chief Justice Ian Chang that the GCB is an unincorporated association and cannot sue or be sued. They said that the reliance on Justice Chang’s decision by Minister Anthony to establish an Interim Management Committee (IMC)to take control of cricket affairs and render defunct the GCB cannot be supported by Justice Chang’s decision and is unlawful, unconstitutional and a deliberate overreaching and misinterpretation of the said decision to attain wholly unlawful and unconstitutional aims.

They also said that there is no authority vested in Anthony to arbitrarily impose an IMC to replace the duly elected and constituted GCB to administer and promote the game nationally.

 

Deliver immediately

The plaintiffs contend that a request by Anthony to their agents, officers or directors to deliver immediately to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, all or any properties, account, records or books owned by or which touch and concern, or are connected with the business of the GCB amounts to an attempt to unlawfully seize and confiscate the said property which they individually and/or jointly with other members of the executive committee of the GCB hold, keep and maintain for the benefit of the GCB and its agents, officers, or directors of the applicants and constitutes a contravention of their fundamental rights to property provided for and guaranteed under the provisions of the Constitution and as a consequence the said request is made without due process, is unlawful, null and void and of no legal force or effect.

They also argue that Anthony’s decision to arbitrarily impose an IMC upon and to purportedly make defunct the duly elected and constituted GCB is contrary to the court order in as much as the statements made in the judgment of Justice Chang is on which Anthony purports to rely are obiter dicta and as such, are void of binding authority or force of law.

Among other things, the plaintiffs also noted that Ramsey Ali filed a constitutional motion personally and on behalf of the members of the Georgetown Cricket Club and the members of the executive committee of the GCB and that conservatory orders were sought in the aforesaid constitutional motion and it is pending a hearing before Justice William Ramlal.

 

Impasse

 

The bill seeks to establish the GCB and county boards as corporate bodies and was tabled by government in December 2012 in a bid to end the impasse over the national game here. It provides constitutions for the GCB, the Demerara Cricket Board, the Berbice Cricket Board and the Essequibo Cricket Board.

The bill was tabled following an acrimonious row between government and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) over control of cricket in Guyana which had seen international matches being pulled from Guyana. The WICB has vehemently opposed the government’s move to supplant the GCB with an interim body led by renowned West Indies captain Clive Lloyd.

The case even reached the Caribbean Court of Justice. Outside of the courtrooms, the WICB refused to recognize the IMC headed by Lloyd and pulled all international matches from Guyana. This was followed by lockouts of GCB officials from the board’s property by the authorities here and police searches of the houses of some of the members. Government had also sought and obtained an order of the Court preventing any official of the GCB from acting as an agent of the GCB. Consequently, all officials of the GCB resigned to avoid any contempt of Court proceedings. The Secretary General of CARICOM was even involved in mediating talks between the government and the WICB to resolve the impasse.

Subsequent to the tabling of the bill, the WICB told government that it has major disagreements with some of its provision, in particular the planned dissolution of the GCB. After several objections to the original draft, it was sent to a Special Select Committee and several amendments have been made to the bill including changes to provisions that the WICB had objected to.

However, after it was sent back to the House, the WICB again signaled its non-support of the bill citing several reasons in a letter by WICB President Whycliffe Cameron to Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs. Among other things, Cameron reiterated the WICB’s position in relation to the dissolution of the existing GCB. “While we note that progress has been made in attempting to curtail Government’s involvement in the administration of the game, we must point out that this lingering issue is critical and dissolution of the GCB and its membership cannot be supported by the WICB,” he had said.

The WICB reaction sparked a response by three major local cricketing bodies who made clear their backing of the Bill and who urged the regional body to also support it. In a response to Cameron’s letter, the Presidents of the Berbice Cricket Board (BCB), the East Coast Cricket Board (ECCB) and the Georgetown Cricket Association (GCA), Keith Foster, Bissoondyal Singh and Roger Harper respectively, expressed concern “as it is clear that there has been some amount of misinformation disseminated in relation to the participation, process and intent” of the Bill.

Describing themselves as the “Majority Constituent Members of Guyana Cricket” and pointing out that they have played a part in the Parliamentary process which took place over a three- month period and which allowed the opportunity for all cricket stakeholders throughout Guyana to make contributions, the trio said that the Bill was drafted with their full knowledge and consent and noted that the WICB also made a contribution. They urged that the bill be supported.

The bill has been listed for debate several times but each time it was deferred for various reasons.

 

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