…says timelines set by CJ reasonable
ATTORNEY General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams said the timeline outlined by the Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire for hearing of the cases on the December 21 vote of no-confidence is reasonable.
On Tuesday, the chief justice (ag) laid out timelines for the Compton Reid application challenging the validity of the vote cast by Charrandass Persaud in the National Assembly on December 21, 2018. The same was done for the application filed by the attorney general challenging passage of the no-confidence motion against the government on the basis that the opposition did not secure a majority as required by the constitution.
For both cases, the chief justice (ag) set aside January 18, 2019 for submissions; January 21, 2019 for rebuttals.
The first case, which addresses the issue of dual citizenship, will be heard on January 24, 2019.The other matter will be heard on January 25, 2019. The chief justice also noted that on January 23, 2019, a hearing will be held on a petition filed by political commentator Christopher Ram, who wants the High Court to find that the no-confidence motion was validly passed.
Outside the court chambers at the conclusion of the case management session, the attorney general said based on the timeline, there would be no expiration of time as stated by Article 106 (7).
Article 106 (7) states: “Notwithstanding its defeat, the government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.”
In his application challenging the passage of the no-confidence motion against the government on the basis that the opposition did not secure a majority as required by the constitution, the attorney general had filed for a conservatory order preserving the status quo ante that the President and all ministers of the government remain in office until the hearing and determination of the questions has also been sought.
However, on Tuesday, the chief justice said that it was necessary to proceed with the conservatory order on the basis that the case in question would be completed by the end of January.
All written submissions and rebuttals are required by January 18 and 21, 2019 respectively, and the oral arguments will be heard on January 25, 2019.
With the timeline set, Minister Williams said he is ready and confident. “For me I have been working on it. It depends on the leader of the opposition; he said he is not filing anything in Christopher Ram’s matter because he supports it. I obviously support the application by Compton Reid [on dual citizenship], so I will develop my application in relation to the requisite majority which we contend was not obtained in breach of Article 106 (6), and so we will try to manage the timeline basically,” he explained.
Today the attorney general is expected to file an additional application, supplementing the one filed by Compton Reid. This Application in Defence will address the contents of Article 70 of the constitution, more so the five-year-term. “All we are saying is that Article 70 is an entrenched position in the constitution. You require 2/3 majority to amend it and that article provides for a five-year term, and only the president who is a part of the government could truncate that term by dissolving or proroguing; but there is no provision by the framers,” he told reporters.
Anil Nandlall, who is representing the interest of the leader of the opposition in all three cases, said he too is satisfied with the timeline given. “I am comfortable. I think all of us should be ready and should be ready before that. I was ready to begin my arguments today,” Nandlall told reporters.
Offering a brief comment after Tuesday’s hearing, Reid, who was present, said he is anxiously awaiting the ruling as he declined to speak extensively with reporters. “We need to wait on the outcome,” he told reporters, while noting that he filed the application because he is “interested in the nation.”