Monday’s ruling by Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire on the interpretation of Article 161 of the Guyana Constitution, regarding the criteria of those eligible to be on the List of Nominees for Chairman of Gecom, represents the ruling of the court and must be respected by all. Until another court, be it the Court of Appeal or the Caribbean Court of Justice, deems otherwise, this decision stands.
This is a nation designed to have the law rule. It is the rule of law that would ensure law and order, peaceful and harmonious relations among the people, and the development of this country. Perception of the law, liking or disagreeing with the law, is not a justification to disregard the law and moreso the decision handed down by the court.
The judiciary is the branch of government tasked responsibility to adjudicate on the law. Where it has been asked to discharge its duty and has so pronounced its interpretation is what must be followed.
It is being noted with interest the different views being adumbrated by the government, opposition and litigant. The government has a premier responsibility to respect the court’s ruling because it is the government/executive that sets the tone for respecting the independence and checks and balances in the three branches of government in society. The opposition, though it finds its voice to speak about authoritarianism in the society, needs to be reminded that in addition to disregarding the rule of law in the day-to-day administration of the state when in the executive, it also flagrantly disregarded the decision of the court.
On this issue should the government flout the court’s decision then neither side will have the moral authority to condemn the other, and this society will be the victim of the anarchy that has seeped into governance under the PPP/C and APNU+AFC. Justice George-Wiltshire presents an opportunity for this government to determine which side its wants history to record it on, and what society must accept from its elected (ie representative) political leadership.
It is opportune to remind this society that when the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s decision in the Seeram Teamal v GuySuCo and the State, the Desmond Hoyte administration respected its decision. It can also be said Hoyte did not take a ruling against his administration personally, for he later went on to appoint Chancellor Keith Massiah, who upheld the High Court’s decision, as Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs in his administration. This country has the benefit of this precedent, and it must not be recorded as an anomaly in the system, but must become the norm when it comes to the rule of law. The right of the litigant to appeal what he considers he did not ask the Chief Justice to rule on is respected, for it represents a civil approach in respecting the authority and processes of the judicial branch.