: Upon the commencement of another hearing for a case filed at the High Court on Wednesday challenging the conduct and passage of the Natural Resource Fund Bill in the National Assembly, Attorney at Law, Selwyn Pieters submitted a preliminary application for Justice Navindra Singh to recuse himself from the case alleging that he is hostile and biased. In shutting down the application, Justice Singh ruled that there were no grounds upon which the allegations were made.
Attorney at Law, Selwyn Pieters, the lead counsel in the case of Christopher Jones and Norris Witter who filed an action challenging the December 2021 passage of the controversial Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Bill accused High Court Judge, Justice Navindra Singh of demonstrating judicial hostility and filed a preliminary application for the Judge to excuse himself from the case, fearing his lack of impartiality.
The rationale behind the preliminary application, Pieters told reporters was the Judge’s refusal to be introduced to him prior to the first hearing of the case on Tuesday.
Pieters’ who resides in Canada, explained that it was his first time appearing in person before Justice Singh in Guyana and Senior Counsel, Roysdale Forde attempted to introduce him to Singh but Singh, he alleges, backed away and said that he did not want to associate himself with Pieters in any way.
“We want a hearing where justice is not only done but seen to be done, we also want the judge to be fair, the judge to be impartial, and to just not exhibit any bias, and certainly, yesterday, the conduct of the judge in terms of how he interacted with one of the counsels in the case, it didn’t display the proper judicial temperament that was expected of a judicial official,” Pieters said.
Pieters claims that Justice Singh is annoyed about the comments he made during the 2016 Prison Inquiry.
“I had a lot of say about him during the Prison Inquiry, he was the Judge that was responsible for 90% of the Guyana Prison population serving more than 40 years in prison and so as the lawyer for the Government, as the lawyer for the Guyana Prison Service, I made comments in my submissions that the government has control for a geriatric population ageing population in the prisons, given the sentencing,” Pieters added.
He said he recommended that Government review its sentencing guidelines in keeping with the recommendations from the Sentencing Commission.
Justice Singh struck down the motion, citing that there were not enough grounds to suggest the court was biased by refusing to be introduced to Pieters.
Attorney General, Anil Nandlall weighed in on the application by expressing its irrelevance to the case.
“The law in relation to a judge recusing himself and in relation to bias is very clear, first of all, is a very serious matter. If you ask a judge to recuse him or herself or you accuse the judge of bias, you have to have substantial grounds to support your application or request, you have to show that the judge has some personal interest in the matter, financial or otherwise,” he said.
“Obviously, there was nothing like that being alleged, so I considered the application by Mr. Peters as without basis and completely misplaced,” the Attorney General related.
JUSTICE SINGH STRIKES DOWN MOTION BY OPPOSITION ATTORNEY TO
RECUSE HIMSELF FROM NATURAL RESOURCE FUND BILL CASE