For a second day yesterday Attorney General Anil Nandlall argued that the court has jurisdiction to delve into the affairs of Parliament and cited several local and international cases to prove his point.
Towards the end of the hearing, which lasted for almost two hours, lawyers representing the respondents, Opposition Leader David Granger and Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman, stated that after hours of submissions Nandlall had failed to prove his case.
Nandlall indicated to the court that several others lawyers will now be assisting him in the case, including Euclin Gomes, Sase Gunraj and Robin Hunte.
He said that there is no rule in Parliament that can violate the rule of the land, adding that the constitutional motion he had filed had nothing to do with fundamental rights as was raised by one of the lawyers.
“Using this case to say that the court has no jurisdiction is false as the case has nothing to do with that,” the AG said.
Later, attorney Khemraj Ramjattan stated: “He [Nandlall] has been going on for two days without addressing proportionality and unconstitutionality… He is walking down a tree that he is going to fall hard from.”
Ramjattan questioned which section of the Constitution refers to proportionality; the issue that Nandlall is complaining about.
During the proceedings, another lawyer, Basil Williams, submitted that Nandlall was misrepresenting what he had previously said. “Up to know he hasn’t shown the constitutional provision that has been breached as it relates to proportionality,” he said.
Acting Chief Justice, Ian Chang who is hearing the matter, interjected during the arguments, indicating that he wished to hear everything Nandlall had to say. “Just expose the material,” he said.
Nandlall, now seemingly irritated, said that Senior Counsel Rex Mc Kay opted not to base his arguments on the court not having jurisdiction as he “obviously is the brightest cell in the battery.” He then indicated to the court that he had finished arguing the jurisdiction issue and requested an adjournment until Monday when he will deal with the other issues raised by the lawyers.
According to the constitutional motion, Nandlall maintains that representation in the committees must be based on the proportionality of seats that parties won at last November’s election.
He said in his court documents that “the composition of the Committee of Selection is violative of the principle of proportionality as contemplated by the Constitution since with this configuration the PPP/C with 32 seats has the same representation in the committee with APNU which only secured 26 seats. Therefore, the PPP/C has only 44.44 per cent of the representation with 32 seats and APNU has the same 44.44 per cent representation, but with only 26 seats, leading to a disproportionality of almost five seats,” he argued.
He is also seeking a declaration that the composition of the Committee of Selection done by elections – PPP, four; APNU, four and AFC, one – is a violation of the “principle of proportionality as contemplated by Articles 60 and 160 of the Constitution and the provisions of the Elections Law (Amendment) Act No 15 of 2000 and accordingly, unconstitutional, unlawful, null, void and of no effect.”
He is asking the court for orders setting aside, revoking, cancelling or annulling the composition of the committee on the grounds that it was in breach of the Constitution and a breach of the provisions of the Elections Laws (Amendment) and further directing the respondents and their servants/agents to constitute all standing committees and sectoral committees and every other committee of the 10th Parliament, whose composition are not expressly set out in the Constitution, with due regard to and in compliance with the principle of proportionality.