Court case to proceed in matter brought to force Speaker to bring motion of no confidence

The motion was filed on 11th December, 2012 by the Leader of the Opposition, Mark Brantley, on behalf of the People’s Action Movement, PAM, and the Concerned Citizens Movement, CCM. However, despite numerous efforts to have the motion debated and voted on in the parliament, they claimed that their efforts were frustrated by the Speaker, Curtis Martin, who contended that there was no prescribed timeline by which such measure had to be accommodated.

Feeling aggrieved, the leaders of PAM with support from CCM, decided to take the matter to court to force the Speaker to place the motion on the Order Paper so that it can be debated and voted on. This was done on 3rd April, 2013. They were however scolded by the Government and the Speaker, saying that the court had no jurisdiction to force the hand of the Speaker, because the constitution allowed for the separation of powers between the legislature, (parliament), judiciary (courts) and the executive (Cabinet).

Almost immediately after the opposition sought constitutional relief throug the legal system, the government itself filed its own application to have the court strike out the opposition’s application on a number of grounds. What followed was months of consideration and review by the presiding judge and on Wednesday, 12th February, 2014 Justice Darshan Ramdhani, made it known that he did not fully agree with either side.

He ruled that the application brought by PAM was strong enough to allow the substantive matter to proceed. He also decided though that there was no compelling evidence to support the argument that the delay in the motion was influenced by the Cabinet of Ministers. These therefore were to be dropped as defendants in the matter and that their legal costs must be paid by the claimants, PAM. This means that the ruling left only Speaker Martin as the sole defendant for when the big trial takes place.

Justice Ramdhani said the Speaker ought not to engage in making pronouncements whether the motion has met a partiular threshold or not, or whether or not he is satisfied that it is the right type of motion. “He should be guided by what it (the motion) proclaims itself to be, treat it as that kind of motion, and place it before the Assembly, for them, on the debates and the vote, to make those final determinations as to its nature. In other words the motion should be debated and voted on.

It was also made clear by the judge that though the constitution does allow the Assembly to mange its own affairs it is not immune from the intervention of the court if there are constitutional matters requiring attention.

 

 

 

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