Gov’t back in: Court of Appeal rules 2-1 No-Confidence Motion not passed

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Two of the three Court of Appeal Judges Friday afternoon ruled that 34 votes and not 33 in the 65-seat National Assembly are required as an absolute majority for the passage of a No Confidence Motion.

This effectively means that the Government can continue in office and there is no need to call general and regional elections unless the country’s final appellate court – the Caribbean Court of Justice -rejects the ruling.

The Opposition is expected to challenge the ruling.

Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag) Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Dawn Gregory did not agree with the January 31st High Court ruling that the motion was passed by a motion of 33 in the House.

The third judge, Justice Rishi Persaud, agreed with the rulings of the Chief Justice and dismissed the appeal.

Among the questions the High Court was asked to determine was whether the ruling of the Speaker that the motion of No Confidence debated in the National Assembly on December the 21st, 2018, was carried by a vote of a majority of all the elected Members of the National Assembly.

The Court was also asked to determine whether the requisite majority ought properly to be thirty-four (34) votes.

The Chief Justice had declared: “In our 65-member National Assembly, therefore, a majority of all elected members of the National Assembly, in accordance with the principle of “one over all rivals combined,” is thirty-three (33) members.”

Justice Rishi Persaud agreed, stating that the simplicity and unambiguity of the meaning of majority must apply and dismissed arguments that a fraction rule should have been applied. He said that proposition was absurd.  He said the simple meaning has informed the practice of National Assembly for many years and was accepted by all at the time.

However, Justices Cummings-Edwards and Barnes did not agree. They reasoned that a division of half of the National Assembly would be 32.5 and that needs to be rounded to 33, and hence for a majority, one more would be needed, making the majority 34.

This story was updated.

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