Case challenging legality of NRF Act set for September 12

-AG anticipates speedy trial

The High Court has set September 12, as the trial date for the hearing of the case challenging the legality of the Natural Resources Fund (NRF) Act which was passed in the National Assembly on December 29, 2021.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Mohabir Anil Nandlall SC MP

The NRF Act which was passed legally, is being challenged by Opposition Chief Whip Christopher Jones and Trade Unionist Norris Witter. The applicants’ challenge is based on the Speaker’s mace not being in place when the NRF Act was passed.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, has since asked that the case be thrown out since the Applicants’ argument is without merit.

However, after the preliminary hearing at the High Court before Justice Navindra Singh on Friday, the Attorney General said he does not anticipate a lengthy trial.

The judge has fixed a trial for September 12, providing of course all the requisite pleadings are filed as the Judge ordered, so the entire September 12 has been assigned as the day for trial. That is a good start for the trial, and I don’t anticipate this being a trial of any great length time, the issues are very clear and they are recorded in permanent form in the Parliament records,” the Attorney General stated.

Giving some insight into the preliminary hearing, the Attorney General disclosed that the hearing was scheduled to allow both parties to present an agreed statement of facts and issues. This was one of the requirements set by Justice Singh at the last hearing on May 13.

They do not admit that they broke the mace, they do not admit that they behaved in a riotous and vulgar manner. They claimed that the speaker unfairly and unlawfully prevented them from speaking, not accepting that it is their conduct that prevented anyone from speaking,” the AG said.

The Judge has since converted the matter to a Statement of Case which requires each party to set out their pleadings and put forward the evidence on which they are relying.

“Of course, our evidence is simple. We are relying on the video that parliament has in its system of the day’s proceedings. As you know it was streamed live, and then the video is left. So, what we have done, is to extract that video, and put it on a flash drive, and that is all we need to put to the court because that is what transpired, and that is what we are relying on,” he stated.

In April, Jones and trade unionist Witter moved to the high court to challenge the legality of the NRF Act through Attorneys Roysdale Forde, S.C and Selwyn Pieters.

The Attorney General, Parliament Office, Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, Speaker of the National Assembly Manzoor Nadir and Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs are listed as respondents.

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