Politicising of the Judiciary

first_imgDear Editor,There is a massive politicising of the Judiciary ongoing in Guyana; and if not checked, Guyana would be the worse for it. Many of the legal luminaries, past and present, seem bent on making rulings that do not stand the judicial mustard test, but rather show political bias and philosophical partiality. For instance, we have had the ruling that the presidential two-term constitutional enactment is now unconstitutional, and should not stand. This means that the only President who was legally restricted by the initial constitutional adjustment is now the only President who can benefit from the now adjudged unconstitutional adjustment.And the Judge who made the ruling is believed to have been a supporter of the President (or the party of the President) who now stands to benefit from the said ruling.In an effort to mitigate the effects of judicial rulings that are beneficial to the PPP, the Coalition Leader and current President, using age as the barometer, proceeded to send the Judge on leave and into retirement. The quandary that this action created is that the President politically inserted himself into matters of the Judiciary so as to prevent the Judiciary from behaving politically.Neither of these should have happened. The preferred symbol of the justice system – at least the one used in the USA – is a blindfolded lady with a balanced scale in her hand. The imagery is blatant, and says in clear tones that justice should be both blind and evenly balanced.However, what we have long had in Guyana is a precipitous corrupting of the judicial system by those who wheeled political and financial clout.It was long believed that both the former acting Chief Justice and the former acting Chancellor were in the corner of the former Government. Many say that the only reason that they could not have been made substantive was because the leader of the then opposition (Mr. David Granger), would not have sanctioned their judicial and administrative elevations.And there seems to be some support for the claims of political biases, in light of the rulings made by both of these jurists in their parting days in office. In the final acts of both the Chief Justice and the Chancellor, two significant rulings were made, both of which favoured Mr Jagdeo, and by extension the PPP.First, Chief Justice Ian Chang ruled that there is no constitutionality to term limits, so he scrapped the two-term presidential term limit clause. This he did just as he was leaving office.Then recently − also as he was about to demit office − Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Carl Singh, upheld Justice Ian Chang’s ruling on the negation of the presidential term limit. And further, Justice Singh threw out the race-baiting charge that was brought against Mr Bharrat Jagdeo.Since those judgments, some have argued that politics − or at least party preference − must have played a role in those rulings.The United Republican Party (URP) is therefore heartened by the latest significant ruling by the newly appointed acting Chief Justice, Madam Yonette Cummings-Edwards. In the matter of the Red House vs the Lands and Surveys (and the President), she has ruled that the local courts do have jurisdiction to hear a matter. So, for the first time since the 80s, a sitting President will be subject to the law courts in Guyana.This means that a Judge appointed by the current administration has looked at the law, interpreted it on its merit, and ruled against the very President who appointed her. This single act speaks volumes, as it pours cold water on the previous perceived political judgments. It also sets a healthy precedent for all her subordinate jurists to follow.Sincerely,PastorWendell Jeffreylast_img read more