Former Prime Minister and NDP founder, Sir James Mitchell. (iWN file photo)

A comment by former Prime Minister Sir James regarding the options open to the judge hearing the election petitions case, is not supported by the law.

Speaking on Boom FM on Tuesday, the retired politician, who is founder of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), said:

“If NDP wins, is there a by-election to take place? The judge cannot order a by-election. The judge can only give judgement on the petition before him about irregularities”.

The NDP has brought two election petitions challenging the results of the 2015 general elections and a ruling is slated for March 21.

However, contrary to Sir James’ comment, the Representation of the People Act and the Constitution both explicitly say that a judge can order a fresh election after hearing an election petition.

Section 59 of the RPA says:

59. (1) Every election petition shall be tried before the High Court in the same manner as a suit commenced by a writ or summons.

(2) At the conclusion of the trial, the judge shall determine whether the member of the House whose return or election is complained of or any and what other person was duly returned or elected, or whether the election was void, and shall certify such determination to the Governor- General, and the return shall be confirmed or altered, or a writ for a new election shall be issued, as the case may require, in accordance with such determination.”
The issue is also addressed by the Constitution, at Section 49(5), which says:

(5) Whenever it has been determined under section 36 of this Constitution that the election of any person as a Representative is invalid the Governor-General shall issue a writ for the election of a Representative to fill the vacancy returnable within ninety days of the final decision of the High Court or, if the determination was by the Court of Appeal, within ninety days of the decision of the Court of Appeal.

Sir James’s comments came as he discussed the implications of the possible rulings that acting High Court Judge Stanley John can hand down.

He said that Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves would win, regardless of the court ruling, noting that only Gonsalves has the power to decide the exact date when a by-election or general elections is held.  

7 replies on “Sir James is wrong; judge can order fresh election”

  1. ‘Son’ you should know better than to trust your memory or accumulated knowledge at your age. You are a disappointment to say the least, go read the constitution and make some notes, then come again.

  2. This dude thinks he can tempt faith. When he was in power he was as bad as Ralph is now. Now that he has sold off our birthrights in the Grenadines to smiling white men, among other things. He wants us to believe he is not a senile old man. But he is delusional as it has been proven.

  3. The plantation-system-minded Gonsalves is going to win the next general elections. The NDP has run off the track due in part to Mitchell constantly undermining it. Our people deserve a break but it is not going to happen, not now. Mitchell might drop dead tomorrow so he don’t give a […] when he is running up his mouth. It is just too bad. 🙁

    1. You are right “R”. As long as Ralph is in control of our elections it would take a landslide vote to possibly even have a chance to get him out. Mitchell is obviously trying to keep him in power, probably because the leadership of the NDP refuses to allow Mitchell to run the party. Sounds vindictive to me.

      Why would a former head of state go out in public and tell the people it is fine and good to ignore the election laws, especially when it is targeted at the very party he founded?

      If Mitchell and Gonsalves were to trade places, Gonsalves would be screaming bloody murder and cause a country-wide revolt to nullify the election based on all the irregularities.

      I have now lost all respect for James Mitchell.

  4. It is great that IWN clarified this. Sir James wants us to believe he is an authority on everything. What is his agenda anyway? Now he is saying that all the irregularities uncovered during the election petitions trial are minor. Is this the same guy who founded the NDP? Apparently he is more interested in making himself relevant more than he is in preserving democracy in SVG. Absolutely arrogant and shameful!
    Why does he hate the NDP so much that he will make up stuff in an attempt to destroy the very party he founded along with democracy in SVG.
    He may be more destructive to SVG and the Vincentian people than even Ralph Gonsalves!

  5. People, Sir James may have erred in his interpretation of the law but his line of reasoning is till correct. If the judgement were to go against the Prime Minister and he decided to dissolve parliament, where exactly is a by-election going to elect a single representative to go to? The by-election is going to automatically fold into a general election by virtue of the dissolution of parliament. If that does not happen we are going to have a constitutional crisis on our hands.

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