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.. . as Judicial Review Bill approvedBy Gary EleazarGuyanese will soon be able to have public officials held accountable for their actions and move to the courts when the Judicial Review Bill, which was approved in the House yesterday, is assented to.The Bill was successfully piloted by Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Charles Ramson, and received the full support of the House.The legislation was also lauded by the Speaker of the National Assembly following its passage.Speaker Ralph Ramkarran told the House that it was a significant day, in that they had agreed to place in the hands of the citizens a right to challenge the administration on their actions.Ramkarran said that it was significant since it placed in the hands of the citizens the right to access justice from the government.“It is an important right for citizens,Cheap NFL Gear,” he emphasized.Ramson in his presentation to the House said that it was a ground-breaking piece of legislation that will help to modernize the laws of Guyana.He asserted that the Bill was necessary for the pursuit of good governance, adding that judicial review ensures that the law is observed.Ramson said that at present the courts have a supervisory role, but this is very limited, and as such the Bill in the House is aimed at ensuring that this allows for the review of the actions of public officials and state entities.Attorney-at-Law and People’s Progressive Party MP, Anil Nandlall, in his presentation to the House, noted that the government was seeking to put systems in place so that they could be held accountable.All modern countries have accepted that Judicial Review is necessary, he stressed, adding that the piece of legislation introduces public interest litigation and shows the commitment of the Government.He explained that the Bill codifies natural justice, and further noted that decisions made by public officials will have to be accompanied with reason.Ramson stated emphatically that the government has committed to subject itself to review.Alliance For Change Chairman Khemraj Ramjattan commended Ramson for what he called “a very advanced piece of legislation”. He said that the Bill will now arm citizens with a weapon against improper actions by the administration.Ramjattan said too that the Bill must be utilized to shape public officials to understand the nature of their job. He urged that there be an education process as it relates to what is required.The AFC Chairman did caution that the government must have the will to adhere to rulings made by Judges.He said that he hopes that there will not be a case where a ruling is made only to be overruled by actions of the executive.Peoples National Congress Reform Member of Parliament Basil Williams also welcomed the Bill, questioning whether the government was preparing to demit office and would like to be in a comfortable position while in opposition.He noted that the Bill will make public officials more disciplined in their dealings with citizens, and expressed the hope that the government would have the political will to ensure adherence.Under the proposed law, where a person or group of persons adversely affected by an administrative act or omission is unable to file an application for judicial review on account of poverty, disability, or socially or economically disadvantaged position, any other person or group of persons acting bona fide may apply under this section for relief.The grounds upon which the Court may grant relief by way of the remedies mentioned in the Act include: that an administrative act or omission was in any way unauthorised or contrary to law; excess of jurisdiction; failure to satisfy or observe conditions or procedures required by law; breach of the principles of natural justice; unreasonable, irregular or improper exercise of discretion; abuse of power; fraud; bad faith, improper purposes or irrelevant consideration; acting on instructions from an unauthorised person; conflict with the policy of an Act;error of law, whether or not apparent on the face of the record; absence of evidence on which a finding or inference of fact could reasonably be based; breach of or omission to perform a duty; failure to satisfy or observe conditions or procedures required by the Constitution; breach of the principle of proportionality; error of fact; deprivation of a legitimate expectation and misfeasance in public office.It also caters for conditions not spelt out in the Act, given that an applicant is not limited to the grounds set out in the application for judicial review, but if the applicant wishes to rely on any other ground not so set out, the Court may, on such terms as it thinks fit, direct that the application be amended to specify such other ground, after giving any other party an opportunity to be heard in respect of the amendment.
 
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