A United National Congress (UNC) member has resurrected the three-year-old election petition and is now seeking to sue Chief Justice Ivor Archie for his role in the determination which cost him the seat back in 2015.
In a pre-action protocol letter yesterday, UNC senator and attorney Gerald Ramdeen represented Dr Shevanand Gopeesingh, who was the UNC candidate for San Fernando West and went up against Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
The crux of the new lawsuit against Archie was whether he and the then newly-installed Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley had a relationship close enough that Archie approached Rowley for houses during the time the petition was being heard.
In that letter, Ramdeen questioned the request Archie made of the PM while also choosing to sit on the appellate court judges panel to hear the UNC’s petitions, which were dismissed.
Back in 2015, the Election and Boundaries Commission (EBC) took an unprecedented decision to extend voting times by one hour because of inclement weather. But the UNC argued the EBC did not do enough to inform the public of the extended voting times, which hindered their voting base in six constituencies.
Ramdeen cited investigative reports in the media and an independent investigation by the Law Association which allegedly linked Archie to the hand over of State houses to people he recommended to the Housing Development Corporation (HDC).
“It is further alleged that you asked for assistance in having their applications progressed and/or fast-tracked and that some of these persons on the list are personal friends of your good self,” Ramdeen said in the letter.
“The fact that you chose to sit on all the appeals in these election petitions at a time when you were said to have been actively lobbying or seeking favourable treatment from State bodies under control of the Government (either because you were making requests to the Prime Minister or HDC; or because you were awaiting a favourable response in respect of persons already recommended for housing) gives rise to serious grounds for actual and/or apparent bias,” Ramdeen said.
According to the document, Gopeesingh asked for details of Archie’s communication with Rowley in the housing request and said he intends to file a claim in the court asking that the election petition rulings be set aside.
Back in October 2016, the UNC sought to have the courts declare the results in five constituencies null and void as a result of the EBC decision to extend voting times. The matter was dismissed but UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said then that she planned to appeal the decision.
The matter eventually reached the Appeal Court where Archie presided and was dismissed.
Reporter: Renuka Sing