High Court refrains from overturning suspension of eight opposition MPs
The High Court has refused to overturn the suspension of eight opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) involved in the parliamentary disruptions resulting in the seizure of the Speaker’s Mace on December 29, 2021.
In a ruling handed down by Justice Damone Younge on Monday, the Court found that the Parliamentary Privileges Committee was well within its authority to recommend the suspension and that Speaker of the National Assembly Manzoor Nadir had the authority to impose same.
The opposition MPs who were suspended are Annette Ferguson, Christopher Jones, Ganesh Mahipaul, Vinceroy Jordan, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, Sherod Duncan, Maureen Philadelphia and Natasha Singh-Lewis.
According to the ruling, while the Court, as was rightfully asked in the fixed date application, has the power to interpret the Constitution, it cannot interfere in the internal operations of the National Assembly.
“The National Assembly is empowered by the Constitution to make its own rules for the conduct of its business and for the conferment of powers and privileges of its members,” the ruling noted.
The Judge also noted in her ruling that the MPs contention that the failure of the Privileges Committee to afford them a hearing breaches their constitutional rights is without merit, reinforcing the matters are internal.
“As such the Court refrains from inquiring into the internal proceedings of the National Assembly and from exercising its jurisdiction to determine the merits of the applicant’s fixed date application or grant he reliefs sought,” the ruling noted.
The eight MPS have been ordered to pay costs to the respondents in the sum of $350, 000 each by February 06, 2023.
Jones, Mahipaul, Duncan and Singh- Lewis were suspended for four consecutive sittings of the National Assembly without pay or privilege after they engaged in disorderly and disrespectful behaviour.
MPs Ferguson and Jordan was suspended for six consecutive sittings following their “severe and egregious” violations that night.
These MPs were involved in the removal of the mace from its rightful position, causing damages; as well as injured and assaulted a member of staff from the Parliament Office.
MP Philadelphia faced a six-week suspension because she verbally assaulted a member of staff of the Parliament Office within the precincts of the National Assembly.
That staffer was Ean McPherson, a 53-year-old former police and army officer, who ensured that the Mace did not leave the building.