Chief Justice rules No Confidence vote valid
Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire Thursday afternoon ruled that the December 21 No Confidence vote was valid.
She upheld the validity of the vote even though she also ruled that Berbice Parliamentarian Charrandass Persaud occupied his seat in violation of the Constitution; this was on the grounds that the Constitution blocks anyone being a dual citizen from being elected a Member of the House.
Justice George-Wilshire ruled that while Charrandass Persaud was elected to the House in violation of the constitution, given his dual citizenship, she could not reverse the vote since there is also a constitutional provision that determines what happens in such a case.
Lawyers for Charrandass Persaud had argued that if the Chief Justice issues an order invalidating his election to the National Assembly, the validity of his vote could not be questioned.
Article 165(2) of the Constitution states that the presence or participation of a Member who is actually not entitled to be there “shall not invalidate those proceedings.”
Further, lawyers for Charrandass Persaud had argued that the Validity of Election Act stipulates that any challenge to the election of a Member should be done by way of elections petition, which was not done in this case, and that any such challenge should be made within 28 days.
On December 21, there was a debate on the No Confidence Motion brought by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.
The Opposition has 32 seats in the House and the Government 33.
To pass the motion, the PPP needed someone from the government to defect. That person turned out to be Berbice Parliamentarian Charrandass Persaud.
With his vote, the Speaker of the National Assembly had declared that the motion was carried or passed.
The government almost immediately accepted defeat and said it would call elections in three months as required by Article 106 (6) of the Constitution.
Attorney General Basil Williams asked the High Court to strike out Article 106 (6) of the Constitution which allows for a No Confidence vote.
The Chief Justice also refused the orders to preserve the status quo and she also denied the request for the vote to be set aside.