Former Chancellor of the Judiciary, Carl Singh on Wednesday night recommended that parliamentarians cease their ruckus in the House and instead change the laws that conflict with constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights.
Delivering a lecture on “The Constitutional Guarantee of Fundamental Rights and the Citizen” at the University of Guyana (UG)-organised third conversation on law and the society, Singh said the saving of preexisting laws needs to be addressed because it impacts on the fundamental rights.
“The time is, therefore, well-nigh due for this our fully independent and sovereign republic for our legislators to take appropriate action with respect to the saving effect of Article 152 of the Constitution of preexisting laws which conflict with the constitutional guarantee of fundamental rights,” said Singh who is Jurist-in-Residence at UG.
He said if provisions in the Anti-Money Laundering legislation collide with the Fundamental Rights provisions, “then clearly they would be challenge-able”.
Justice Singh explained that even if the law being saved conflicts with the fundamental rights provision constitution, the law is preserved because “the law has constitutional support”.
“It is in that circumstance that I made the call that this savings law provision diminishes the value of the fundamental rights which are guaranteed to the people and therefore instead of the bedlams in the National Assembly they should focus on correcting these things and that is to remove the existing law provision which impacts not on a positive way on the fundamental rights of the citizen,” he said.
Parliament is increasingly known for loud heckling between a number of government and opposition parliamentarians. Recently, opposition People’s Progressive Party parliamentarians held placards and heckled President David Granger throughout his address to Parliament.
Justice Singh, in his lecture, cited several decisions in India, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, European Union and the United States that deal with fundamental rights such as the right to life, freedom of expression, right to freedom of movement, access to legal counsel, and protection from discrimination.
He noted that all fundamental rights are not absolute, but contain limits and can be circumscribed by other laws. Justice Singh indicated that as situations evolve, it was important to interpret the constitution in a “broad, liberal and purposive”.
Attendees included Chancellor of the Judiciary, Yonette Cummings-Edwards; Chief Justice, Roxane George-Wiltshire; Chief Magistrate, Ann Mc Lennan; Principal Magistrate, Judy Latchman; former House Speaker, Ralph Ramkarran; several judges, lawyers, magistrates and law students.