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High Court ruling forces ministers Scott, Felix absence from National Assembly

Government Ministers, Keith Scott and Winston Felix were absent from the National Assembly on Monday in keeping with a High Court ruling that found that they were elected members and could not sit in the House as un-elected/ technocratic members.

House Speaker, Dr. Barton Scotland told the House that Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, Winston Felix and Junior Minister of Social Protection would not be occupying their seats in the House.

The decision was announced by the Speaker when the House resumed to consider the estimates of expenditure in the 2016 National Budget.

Scotland said that apart from a copy of outgoing Chief Justice, Ian Chang’s ruling that was provided to him earlier Monday by People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) front-bencher, Anil Nandlall, he had already opted to act based on reports in the media. Nandlall represented PPPC member Desmond Morian in whose name the court action against Felix and Scott had been filed.

Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, Winston Felix.

Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, Winston Felix.

“I had determined  as of yesterday that the information which was available in the newspapers was sufficiently reliable to  depend on and the position is, therefore, that I can find no other way by which must respond to a decision of the court other than by respect and submission,” the Speaker told the House.

Attorney General, Basil Williams said his government would always abide by the rule of law, but at the same time he hinted that the decision would be appealed for them to be “discharged and set aside.” “We will uphold the rule of law but we shall ensure that we shall leave no stone un-turned to restore our brothers Scott and Felix to their rightful places in this Honourable House,” he said.

The House Speaker emphasised the need to unequivocally respect the decisions of a Court. “Whatever views may exist in relation to a decision of the Court at any time, the first obligation is to obey those decision and the proveed from there,” he said.

The House Speaker said he has not been served with a Court Order but he was aware of the decision of the High Court.

  • Emile_Mervin

    If memory serves me right, when the coalition submitted its 75-name List of Candidates to Gecom, last year April, at number 18, was Winston Felix, followed by David Granger At 25, Moses Nagamootoo at 45 and Keith Scott at 60.

    When the coalition won, all List candidates were elected by the people as qualified or eligible for MP status. This is why Felix and Scott are eligible for MP status, but not technocratic status. Technocrats are not normally associated with partisan politics, but are drawn from civil society for their technical expertise that a traditional politician may not have.

    On January 3, 1969, Desmond Hoyte, then a lawyer with Clark and Martin, was appointed Home Affairs Minister by Forbes Burnham as he readied to board a plane for an overseas visit. Hoyte was never on a List of Candidates, thus he was a technocrat.

    On October 5, 1992, Samuel Hinds, then a co-founder of GUARD agitating for political change, became Prime Minister in the PPP regime. He was never on a List of Candidates, thus he was a technocrat.

    My point is, unless AG Williams can cite case precedence, he is skating on thin ice trying to argue a List Candidate can also be a technocrat.

    The coalition needs to hire a team of legal advisors and a highly effective public relations guru. I have never seen so many unforced errors by a new government.

    • SYL

      Now you get my drift, they need a special prosecutor and legal minds with commonsense . I keep saying this all the time my fellow bloggers.They need to remove any vindictive thought in their heads and subconscious mind, only then they can think clearly and provide a formidable platform for the present and the future. ,

  • Emile_Mervin

    Faoud,

    Thanks for the indulgence. My layman’s take is that Scott and Felix are still on the List of Candidates, thus making them eligible for parliamentary appointment.

    They can be appointed MPs and remain as junior cabinet ministers, but definitely as technocratic ministers. Additionally, the government can only field 33 MPs, so we have to see if their presence as junior cabinet ministers and MPs will bring the total to 35 or they will retain their junior cabinet minister status but not sit as MPs.