Attorney General asks for stay of removal of Parliamentary Secretaries from National Assembly

Last Updated on Friday, 4 June 2021, 11:16 by Denis Chabrol

Attorney General Anil Nandlall on Thursday asked for a stay of a High Court decision that the appointment of two Parliamentary Secretaries is not constitutional and that they must be removed from the National Assembly.

In court papers released by him, Public Trustee and Official Receiver,  Attorney-at-Law Prithima Kissoon says there is precedent to grant a stay of the High Court’s decision for Sarah Brown and Vikash Ramkissoon to be removed from the National Assembly.

Ms. Kissoon cites then Chancellor of the Judiciary Carl Singh’s stay in favour of then ministers Keith Scott and Winston Felix while an appeal had been heard into whether they could have been technocratic ministers although they had been elected members.

In the case of the Parliamentary Secretaries, the Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire has ruled that Ms Brown and Mr. Ramkissoon must be removed from the National Assembly as non-voting Parliamentary Secretaries because they are elected members.

Among the grounds is  that if the stay is not granted, the appeal will be nullified if the Parliamentary Secretaries will be removed when the National Assembly meets again.

Attorney-at-Law Kissoon says that their work will be adversely affected if they are removed before the appeal is heard. “The Second and Third Named Applicants/Appellants have already been assigned important constitutional and parliamentary duties and without the interim protection of this Honourable Court, they will not
be able to discharge those important duties and responsibilities, to the detriment of the public good and the people of Guyana whom they represent,” she said in her affidavit.

Opposition Chief Whip, Christopher Jones had challenged the constitutionality of the Parliamentary Secretaries.

But Ms. Kissoon said the Chief Justice erred and misdirected herself in law by failing to appreciate that although there are similarities, there are also differences in the constitutional regime pertaining to the appointment of  Technocratic Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries.

“In the circumstances, it cannot be disputed that the appeal filed herein is not only grounded in merit but raises fundamental issues of interpretation of the Constitution, as well as, issues integral to Guyana’s Parliamentary and
Constitutional democracy,” states the affidavit.

The opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change has publicly flayed House Speaker Manzoor Nadir for taking no action since the High Court decision in favour of the Opposition Chief Whip.