PPP executive files proceedings to overturn Patterson appointment

Zulfikar Mustapha

PPP executive Zulfikar Mustapha yesterday filed an application in the High Court asking for the appointment of Justice James Patterson as Gecom Chairman to be overturned and for President David Granger to choose a person from three rejected lists tendered by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo.

In the application filed by Attorney at law Anil Nandlall, the party’s Executive Secretary was listed as the applicant and the Attorney General the respondent. No date has been set for hearing.

The court is being asked for a declaration that James’ appointment on October 19 is in violation of and contrary to Article 161(2) of the Constitution and is accordingly unlawful, illegal, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect; a declaration that he is not qualified to be appointed to the post; an order directing the president to choose a person from the eighteen names submitted to him by the Leader of the Opposition and an order rescinding, revoking, cancelling and setting aside the appointment.

According to the application during a meeting with the president, Jagdeo was handed a letter informing that the third list has been rejected and that he will now proceed to unilaterally appoint James. At the said meeting, James’ Curriculum Vitae was hand-delivered to the Leader of the Opposition.

The application said that it was observed from the CV and inquiries made that Patterson is a reverend, that is, a Christian activist/ leader; is a member of the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy appointed by the President;  is an advisor to the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs appointed by the President, the Attorney-General or someone in the President’s Government and is paid eight hundred thousand dollars ($800,000) per month as for that post; was never appointed Chief Justice of Grenada in 1987, or at all; was appointed by the President to head a Commission of Inquiry into the prison break at Georgetown, Guyana, during the month of July, 2017; was appointed by the President to be part of a panel to review applications for the positions of Chief Justice and Chancellor of the Judiciary; was a pallbearer at Merriman’s Funeral Home at the funeral of former President Hugh Desmond Hoyte, a service which preceded the State Funeral at which members and supporters of the People’s National Congress Party attended; all of the other pallbearers in relation to that part of the ceremony were People’s National Congress Party leaders, activists and supporters and is a member of a group under the name and style, ‘Rally around the People’s National Congress (PNC) Group’, a group on Facebook, a social media platform.

The application stated that the position of `advisor to the Attorney General’ was never publicly advertised and “he was handpicked for that position either by the President, the Attorney-General or some authorized member of the President’s Government”.

It also took note that James told the media shortly after his swearing in that he was only informed of the appointment a few hours earlier.

“As a result, the Applicant verily believes that the President could not have had the benefit of a curriculum vitae of Reverend Justice (ret’d) James Aloysius Patterson when he chose to appoint him as the Chairman of GECOM; in the event that the President had the said resume, he only had a few hours, the most, to examine it”, the application stated.

It added that James is not qualified to be appointed as “he cannot be considered to have the requisite integrity on the ground that he was not the Chief Justice of Grenada as stated on his curriculum vitae; that he cannot be or appear to be politically impartial and independent in the discharge of the functions of his office”.

The application stated that the president has no power to make a unilateral appointment once a list of six names is submitted to him, adding that he (the president) has also failed to give reasons for naming the 18 nominees unacceptable.

“By making a unilateral appointment of a Chairman of GECOM, the President has destroyed a vital and delicate balance which the framers of the Carter Formula, which was codified in Article 161(2) of the Constitution, intended, that is, that GECOM shall consist of three (3) Com-missioners representing the Government and three (3) Commissioners representing the Opposition, pre-sided over by a Chairman produced through a consensual process involving the Leader of the Opposition and the President. In all the circumstances, the exercise of the President’s discretion and the decision which has resulted therefrom is unreasonable, arbitrary, capricious, procedurally improper, unconstitutional, influenced by improper motives and made in bad faith”, it said.

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