The appeal of the High Court’s decision to dismiss the main opposition New Democratic Party’s election petitions will not be heard this week.
Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, one of the lawyers on the case, said on radio on Friday that the transcript of the trial is not yet available.
The Court of Appeal will sit in Kingstown next week and the NDP had announced last year that the appeal would have been heard this month.
But Bacchus-Baptiste, a senator and candidate for the NDP said on the party’s “New Times” programme on NICE Radio that the appeal would be heard at another time this year.
“… we have a very, very strong case on appeal. It is set up for a must-win victory. But the record to put it together has been proving to be really difficult. We have not yet received all the transcripts and we cannot put the record together until we have the transcripts,” she said.
“It is supposed to come through the court but it had been subcontracted out to different persons to type up…” she said.
Bacchus-Baptiste was confident that the appeal would be heard before the next general elections, which Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has said will be held this year, ahead of the March 2021 constitutional deadline.
“… unless they call election next month,” she said in response to a question about whether the vote would take place before the petitions appeals are heard.
“Be reassured we are working on it and the record — soon we would get all the transcripts and we have already started preparing the record. Once we get the other transcripts, it will be filed very, very shortly. So that’s the best I can see on the update for now. It’s a mammoth record. But until we get the transcripts, we cannot put the record together,” she said.
In March 2019, the High Court, after a full trial, dismissed the petitions for lack of evidence.
The NDP filed the petitions, challenging the results in North Windward and Central Leeward in the December 2015 general elections.
Those constituencies were among eight that electoral officials called for the Unity Labour Party, which secured a fourth consecutive term in office by a one-seat majority in the 15-member Parliament.
Three months after his initial ruling and weeks after an appeal was filed, acting High Court judge, Justice Stanley John responded in June 2019 to a request from lawyers for the government by providing “supplemental reasons” for rejecting the evidence of a key witness in the North Windward election petition case.
In September 2019, the government (respondents) had appealed a 2-year-old ruling in the petitions case, six months after a final judgement came down in their favour, and five months after the opposition appealed that final ruling.
The court dismissed that appeal.