Monday, March 26, 2012

Opposition backs down from no jurisdiction argument

Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, who had moved to the court against the parliamentary opposition, in relation to Parliamentary Committees, told the Acting Chief Justice Ian Chang on Friday that the opposition had backed down from its original argument that the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter.

The Attorney General said that at the beginning of the hearing the lawyers representing the opposition had as their big argument that the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter, but now, after he had cited number of cases in support of his contention to prove that the court had jurisdiction they are now claiming that the motion did not have merit.
Mr. Nandlall said lawyers for the respondents have reneged from their position.
Following the court sitting on Friday, Mr. Nandlall said, as a ‘Watchdog’ for the Constitution, he had brought the motion as he was supposed to do whenever the Constitution is violated.
According to him, the lawyers representing the respondents began their arguments, by stating what their major plan was.
Nandlall added: “I have cited several cases to establish beyond any rational doubt that the court has jurisdiction. Now the lawyers are shifting to a different position; they are now saying that the motion has no merit. Now that is a different argument. In the past they were saying that the motion had no jurisdiction now I will have to introduce other arguments and cite other cases in support of the new contention. I will deal with that on the next occasion,” the Attorney General told the Chief Justice at the end of the session on Friday. The next session will begin today.
Asked why he called himself a “Watch dog” the Attorney General explained that “in our constitutional structure he is the guardian of the Constitution and the protector of the legal rights of the public and in that capacity the Attorney General has a duty and a responsibility to approach the court whenever the public interest has been threatened or whenever the Constitution is violated”.
Ever since the commencement of the Tenth Parliament the government and the opposition have been diametrically opposed to a number of issues. One issue on the government’s side is the composition of the parliamentary committees which it feels is not being done according to the principle of proportionality.
On March 7 government through the Attorney General moved to the High court to challenge the manner in which those committees are being set up and piloted primarily by the opposition.

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