first_imgPeople’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Member of Parliament (MP) Priya Manickchand has strongly defended the decision made by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo to reject the two nominees put forward by President David Granger to fill the substantive vacancies in the offices of the Chief Justice and Chancellor of the Judiciary respectively.Manickchand, an Attorney-at-Law and former Government Minister, also describedOpposition MP, Attorney-at-LawPriya ManickchandPresident David Granger’s assertions about the Opposition trying to undermine the judicial system due to its non-approval of the top judicial appointments as “unfair” and “far from the truth”. She spared no effort in chastising the coalition Government for attempting to portray a bad image of the Opposition, as she explained that the President had his opportunity to agree to substantive judicial appointments in the past, but never did.“For all the time that the Peoples National Congress (PNC) has been in Opposition, whenever under the new constitution the chance arose for them to confirm or reject the nominees of the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP/C) presidents, they refuse. So we are talking about 12 years,” she stated. She made this comment on Television Guyana (TVG) Under the Microscope programme, where the issues surrounding these top judicial appointments were discussed and debated at length.Manickchand also called into question the direct statements made by the country’s head of state in regard to this issue, explaining that the president was leader of the Opposition from 2011 to 2015. “He refused to agree to the nominations put up by the president of this country for chancellor and chief justice. And for all the time that he has been president, he took three years, almost, to come and give a name. So (there has been) a month of nothing, considering the stalling up they have done in this process,” she opined.The Opposition MP said while everyone would like to see that these appointments are made quickly, it would be reckless of the Opposition Leader to agree or fail to give his agreement without checking on the information that is available for the suggested candidates.While there have been criticisms about Jagdeo’s silence on his reasons for rejecting the nominees, the former minister said Jagdeo may have good reasons for so doing.Manickchand said, “I think it’s not a bad practice. I think I heard Mr. Jagdeo saying he wouldn’t like to drag people’s names through the mud. And I think that might be an almost bashful thing, because he doesn’t want to do damage to a person who, through no fault of his own, is placed on a national stage. But of course with the exception of accepting it.”Justice Kenneth Benjamin was nominated for the position of Chancellor of the Judiciary, while Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, the current acting chancellor, has been nominated for the position of Chief Justice.Concerns have been raised by the Bar Association in Belize about Benjamin’s failure, up to recently, to clear a backlog of writing his decisions.Two weeks ago, Jagdeo, in a letter addressed to the President, said that after having duly considered the nominations of Justice Benjamin and Justice Cummings-Edwards under Article 127 (2) of the Constitution, he is unable to offer his agreement for their appointments.However, the Opposition Leader has since indicated his willingness to further engage the President on substantive appointments to the top judicial positions.To this end, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, subsequently said Government will be going ahead with “meaningful consultations” between the two sides, as provided for in the Constitution.“Mr Jagdeo’s rejection is constitutional, the President’s powers are also constitutional; and there is a provision in the law which provides that in the event there cannot be agreement…then there is a second level which now requires meaningful consultations. So I believe that is the next step we will go to,” Minister Harmon had said.According to Article 127 (2) of the Constitution, “If the office of Chancellor or Chief Justice is vacant…then, until a person has been appointed…, those functions shall be performed by such other of the Judges as may be appointed by the President”.Guyana’s Constitution requires the Opposition Leader’s approval before the President’s nominees can be appointed to those two top judicial positions.last_img read more