The court and political life

first_imgDear Editor,One of the main characteristics of a democratic society is the separation of powers. The three pillars on which it stands are the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary. In democratic societies, there are variations on how society is managed, but all free and democratic states are based on those separation.The Judiciary has particular importance, since it should be independent and interpret the law impartially and fairly. Thus the saying ‘Justice is blind’.When this begins to fail, people tend to lose hope and confidence in the ability of the State to protect their interests.Aspiring dictators tend to move to undermine the Judiciary in the process of establishing an undemocratic system.In Guyana, we saw this process first beginning slowing then picking up speed during the 1964 to 1992 period.First was the appointment of politically biased Judges who were willing to carry out the wishes of the Executive and to try to justify that in law.The other side of that coin was the removal of Judges who demonstrated integrity and independence and who fearlessly discharged their duty of upholding the law and Constitution.Some of those who immediately come to mind are Guya Persaud, Sir Joseph Luckhoo and Justice Vieira.After removing the ‘undesirable’ Judges, the People’s National Congress (PNC) regime then removed accountability by withdrawing from the Privy Council without leaving anything to put in its place.When that process was completed, the dictator did not even have to instruct the Judges which way to rule. Ashton Chase once wrote that the Judges began to anticipate what the dictator wanted and dutifully ruled in that way.Under such a system, it was only a small step to put the party symbol on the courts. The PNC’s flag was hoisted on a taller fly pole than the nation’s flag in the Guyana Court of Appeal compound. The Chancellors appointed by the PNC did nothing about that.We have come a far way since those days. The People’s Progressive Party/Civic restored the separation of powers. Moreover, it was Cheddi Jagan who insisted that the Caribbean Court of Appeal be established. He even threatened to return to the Privy Council if the Caribbean Court of Appeal was not established.Guyana was among the first countries to sign to make the Caribbean Court of Appeal operational. Now we are once again seeing troubling signs of a reversal or some setbacks in this regard.We find many important constitutional cases not being heard by the Judiciary. The first and most notable is the Elections Petition case of 2015. Three years have already elapsed and it is not being called up. Not even started. This seems to be deliberate. It appears that the Judiciary does not want to displease the Executive that is most likely in power due to fraud.A second case in point is the case as regards the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission. Many learned persons in the law are of the view that the present person in that post is there illegally and unconstitutionally.A case was brought to the courts to decide this. However, it seems to have been lost in the bureaucracy. This is another method of frustrating the majority of people in this country. But this is not all.On more than one occasion, the Communities Minister has been violating the Constitution in his appointment of some Mayors, and Chairpersons at the Local Government level. Court cases have been filed but that seem to be where the matters end. No dates have been fixed for the hearing.There are other constitutional cases that were heard. The matters completed in the court but no ruling has been made. These things are tied up in the court for years.In light of the above, one wonders if the Judiciary is taking orders or they are anticipating what the rulers want and are using their positions to deliver.I am appalled that the legal fraternity is so tight-lipped about these dangerous and ominous signs.If we contrast our situation here with Trinidad and Kenya where challenges to the elections were made, we see how expeditiously the courts heard the cases and ruled on them. In the case of Kenya, elections had to be redone.I wish to warn that there are consequences for every simple person in our country when these violations are allowed to happen.The experience all over the world has shown that when the Judiciary does not perform its functions, it leads to dictatorship in our political life.In economic life it leads to decline and even collapse. Things become bad and lines are formed for essential items like salt and toilet paper.Sincerely,Donald RamotarFormer Presidentlast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *