AG chamber makes submission to Court on December 21 vote

– rebuttals will be heard by January 21

– oral arguments have been set for January 23 and 24

DPI, Guyana, Friday, January 18, 2019

The Chamber of the Attorney General (AG) today filed its submission in the Supreme Court, days before the case for the December 21 vote, is heard for the second time.

During the first hearing of the case on January 15, Chief Justice (ag) Roxanne George requested that the parties in the matters file their pleadings and make their submissions by January 18. In the meantime, rebuttals will be heard by January 21 and oral arguments have been set for January 23 and 24.

The issues the government is seeking the court’s intervention on are:

(i) Whether 33 votes in favour of the motion of no-confidence amounted to a majority of all elected members in accordance with Article 106 (6) of the Constitution.

(ii) Whether Resolution 101 is constitutional and effective and passed in accordance with Article 106 (6) of the Constitution.

(iii) Whether section 5 of the Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2000 (No 17/2000) is constitutional and not inconsistent with article 70 of the Constitution.

(iv) Whether the Speaker’s ruling on the vote can be quashed by the Courts.

According to the Chamber, the High Court of Guyana has jurisdiction to entertain the application, since the court is the guardian and protector of the Constitution.

“The High Court of Guyana is imbued and endowed with jurisdiction to craft orders it sees fit and in the interest of justice.”

Regarding the first issue, the AG said there was a miscalculation of the majority of all elected members as required under Article 106 (6) of the Constitution for the Government to be defeated on a vote of no confidence.

On the second issue of whether Resolution 101 is constitutional and effective and passed in accordance Article 106 (6) of the Constitution, it was submitted that the failure to obtain 34 or more votes breached article 106 (6) of the Constitution and was unlawful and the certification by the speaker by issuing Resolution 101 could not be conclusive.

The third issue which questioned whether section 5 of the Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2000 (No 17/2000) is constitutional and not inconsistent with article 70 of the Constitution. The Chamber said the framers of the Constitution in article 70 (3), having guaranteed an elected government, a 5 years term of office which 5 years term is protected by entrenchment by the requirement of 2/3 of all the elected members of the National Assembly voting to reduce that 5 years, could not at the same time have intended that a future Parliament were to be permitted to abridge or curtail the enjoyment of that five years, by introducing into the Constitution via a provision that is not entrenched at all a process called a ‘vote of confidence.’

The three matters before the court following the December 21 vote in the National Assembly are Compton Reid vs The Attorney General, former Member of Parliament Charrandass Persaud and The Speaker of the National Assembly. The Attorney General vs The Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Barton Scotland and the Opposition Leader, and Christopher Ram vs The Attorney General and Speaker of the National Assembly.

Alexis Rodney.

Images: Adrian Persaud.

Submissions in Action No. 22 –

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