Arguments continue in motion over Speaker’s ruling

Arguments continued in the High Court before acting Chief Justice Ian Chang on Friday over the latest suit filed by Attorney General Anil Nandlall, which seeks an order to overturn the decision by Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman to send a motion against Home Minister Clement Rohee to the Privileges Committee.

During the hour-long proceedings, one of the lawyers for Trotman, Roysdale  Forde, and Nandlall traded legal points over the issue, with both presenting legal authorities to strengthen their arguments.

Forde began by making a no cause of action submission, in which he argued that the court had no jurisdiction to intervene in the work of the National Assembly and that this is supported by common-law privilege.

Forde also contended that the motion filed by Nandlall failed to demonstrate any possible contravention of the constitution and therefore should be struck out.

Nandlall, however, said that from his understanding, arguments made by Basil Williams, one of the lawyers for Opposition Leader David Granger, and Forde were somewhat different.

He said Williams’s argument was that the court had absolutely no power to intervene in the operations of the National Assembly while Forde is contending that the court can intervene once a breach is established.

He also highlighted that the opposition had disobeyed the court’s order as it pertains to the filing of an affidavit in answer.

Nandlall also argued that the constitution is the supreme law of the land and it is the document which gives Parliament and other institutions their powers. The legal authorities he presented included Justice Chang’s decision in the first action he (Nandlall) had filed.

On the last occasion that the current matter was called, Williams had argued that the government’s complaint was that the matter involving Rohee had been sent to the Committee of Privileges. “…All those decisions were matters that were internal to the Parliament and as a result it is clear law that the court has no jurisdiction in the internal proceedings of Parliament,” Williams had told this newspaper.

Williams had also stated that the Standing Orders make it clear that the Speaker has to acknowledge a member before that member could speak “and so you are bound by the rules of Parliament.”

The current action is Nandlall’s fourth filed on behalf of the government that had its genesis in the ruling made by the Speaker, which limits Rohee’s participation in the House, pending the findings of the Committee of Privileges on the enforceability of a motion brought by Granger, which seeks to have Rohee gagged in the National Assembly.

Nandlall, who has named Granger and Trotman as the respondents in this motion, is seeking to overturn Trotman’s decision, which he contends is unlawful. In the Affidavit in Support of Summons, Granger had said that he was advised that the declarations and orders being sought “are without merit and are misconceived”.

He further said he was advised that the Speaker’s decision was made during the course of him presiding at a sitting of the National Assembly pursuant to the provisions of the Standing Orders and was an internal proceeding of the National Assembly.

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