Browne, Ramkissoon absent from Parliament; Speaker says will honour CJ’s ruling

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At the first sitting of the National Assembly since a High Court ruling that the appointment of Vickash Ramkissoon and Sarah Browne as Members of Parliament (MPs) is unlawful, the two MPs were absent.

And in his first public comment on the matter, Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzoor Nadir, noted his intention to respect that.

It comes even as an appeal to the ruling is still pending and an application has been made by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, for a stay of the ruling until the appeal is heard and determined.

At the start of the 28th Sitting of Parliament on Thursday, Nadir referred to a 2016 statement to the House by former Speaker, Barton Scottland, in which he said that whatever views may exist, the first obligation is to obey the decision of the court.

The Chief Justice did not grant any coercive orders for the removal of the MPs from the House, however, she noted in her ruling that it cannot be accepted that they sit in the National Assembly as non-voting members, pointing out that they were on the List of Candidates for the governing People’s Progressive Party Civic at the 2020 elections.

Nandlall, in a previous interview with the News Room, said these were mere declarations and, in his view, the Chief Justice did not quash their appointments, and as such, they continue to be Parliamentary Secretaries.

The issue is now whether they can sit in the House as non-voting MPs.

Browne is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Amerindian Affairs Ministry, while Ramkissoon is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Agriculture Ministry.

The law makes provision for the President to appoint four technocrats Members of Parliament and two Parliamentary Secretaries, who will not have the same voting rights as elected members extracted from a list of candidates.

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