Granger’s lawyers prepping to defend set up of selection committee

Attorneys for Opposition Leader David Granger have opted not to file an affidavit in answer to the Constitutional Motion that seeks to contest the composition of key parliamentary committees and are preparing to argue that there was no constitutional breach.

During a short hearing yesterday before acting Chief Justice Ian Chang, attorney Basil Williams indicated that nothing will be filed in response to Attorney General Anil Nandlall’s motion, which argues that the representation of the parties must be based on the proportionality of seats won at last November’s elections.

Roysdale Forde and Khemraj Ramjattan, attorneys for Speaker Raphael Trotman, who is also named as a respondent in the action, have also said that no affidavit in answer to the motion would be filed.

Williams did, however, request time for the lawyers to argue their position.

Senior Counsel Ashton Chase, who is among the battery of lawyers representing the State, yesterday said that he would be continuing arguments on jurisdiction. Justice Chang said that he would allow Chase to make his points, although Nandlall had already addressed the issue.

Nandlall is arguing that there was a constitutional breach and that the court has automatic jurisdiction to hear the matter.

The lawyers for Granger and Trotman say that while the court has some jurisdiction, it cannot inquire into the internal business of parliament, which includes the composition of the committees. According to the Notice of Motion, Nandlall is 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 also seeking a declaration that all standing committees and special select committees of the National Assembly of the 10th Parliament “are to be constituted in proportion to the number of seats which each political party was allocated in the said National Assembly” based on the results of the November 28, 2011 polls.

The AG is additionally 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 Commit-tees and Sectoral Committees and every other Committee of the 10th Parliament, whose composition is not expressly set out in the Constitution, with due regard to and in compliance with the principle of proportionality.

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