Former acting Chief Justice Ian Chang will continue working on rulings in the elections petition filed by the opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic, and their challenge to the APNU+AFC government’s technocratic ministers Winston Felix and Keith Scott sitting in the national assembly.
In light of Justice Chang having proceeded on pre-retirement leave as of last Tuesday, concerns have been expressed as to who will now be hearing those matters and whether they will have to start over, as a new acting chief justice has since been appointed.
After taking the oath of office, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards was sworn in as the new acting Chief Justice last week.
Having made enquiries from the office of the chief justice on Monday, Stabroek News was informed that Justice Chang will continue to deal with the matters until his leave ends next February.
According to the information, once a ruling has been arrived at by Justice Chang, the usual procedure will be for the new chief justice who would have assumed office, to deliver the ruling.
Notices are to be sent out informing when a ruling is ready to be handed down in both matters.
In the petition, PPP/C MP Ganga Persaud is calling on the court to declare the entire elections process flawed, and containing many procedural errors and so many instances of fraudulent and/or suspicious actions that “the results that have been derived from the process cannot be credibly deemed to represent accurately the will of the electorate.”
He also asked the court to order a recount of all ballots cast in the elections.
Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield, through his lawyer, Roysdale Forde has challenged the petition, which he has asked the court to strike out on the grounds that the substantive submissions disclose no reasonable cause of action.
Local and international observers have declared the polls free and fair.
Justice Chang had previously decided that he should first hear arguments regarding material facts as a prerequisite to determining whether, thereafter, any need would still exist for going into the substantive elections petition case.
Notices are also to be sent regarding Justice Chang’s preliminary ruling on whether the court has jurisdiction to hear the technocrat ministers’ matter.
PPP/C member Desmond Morian is seeking a declaration that Felix and Scott are not lawful members of the National Assembly and an order that they be prevented from sitting in the Assembly unless their names are extracted from the coalition’s list.
Felix, the Minister of Citizenship, and Scott, Minister in the Ministry of Communities, are sitting in the National Assembly as technocrat members of the Assembly, which the opposition contends is improper.
Attorney General Basil Williams, one of the respondents, has argued that the High Court has no jurisdiction to hear the matter, which was filed by motion and not via an election petition.