Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire this afternoon ruled that the appointment of Vikash Ramkissoon and Sarah Browne as Parliamentary Secretaries and non-elected Members of the National Assembly was illegal as they were successful PPP Candidates at the last elections,and therefore are to be removed from the positions and seats in the National Assembly.
In light of the judgement, the Speaker of the National Assembly, will be required to inform Browne and Ramkission that they may no longer participate in the business of the Assembly.
In her ruling, the Chief Justice said that Brown who is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Amerindian Affairs Ministry, and Ramkissoon who is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Agriculture Ministry are not lawful Members of the National Assembly and could not occupy seats in the House.
“They cannot be elected and non-elected members at the same time,” she said. The Chief Justice pointed out that Parliamentary Secretaries, who are regarded as junior ministers, can have voting rights if they are extracted from the list of elected members by the Representative of the List.
The Chief Justice said that the arguments submitted by Attorney General Anil Nandlall who appeared on behalf of Brown and Ramkissoon had no merit.
In a previous case on which the CJ relied for her judgement, PPP Member Dennis Morean filed a constitutional motion questioning the legality of Former Ministers Keith Scott and Winston Felix sitting in the National Assembly as Technocrat Ministers, after they were both candidates for the APNU+AFC list for the 2015 elections. Both the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal ruled that their appointments were illegal.
Nandlall who appeared for Dennis Morean in that case, argued successfully for his client and earned the wrath of the Chief Justice who castigatedNandlall for arguing against his own positions in the almost identical case in which the PPP’s Desmond Morean had successfully challenged then President David Granger’s appointment of Winston Felix and Keith Scott as ministers without voting rights.
“Having argued otherwise, I have concluded that Mr. Nandlall is now trapped by his previous successful submissions and now seeks to say that the result of Morean is wrong,” the Chief Justice said.
She accused the Attorney General of abandoning his previous arguments in that case, while cherry-picking parts of that argument to support the appointment of the Parliamentary Secretaries.
Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde, who filed the fixed date application in the name of Opposition Chief Whip Christopher Jones, asked the court for a declaration that Browne and Ramkissoon are not lawful members of the National Assembly of the 12th Parliament of Guyana and are also not validly appointed Parliamentary Secretaries.
The Chief Justice agreed with the arguments put forward by Senior Counsel Forde, that persons who are on the successful list of candidates are elected to the National Assembly and therefore cannot qualify under Article 105 to be non-elected MPs.
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