Appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries unlawful – Chief Justice

Sarah Brown and Vickash Ramkissoon

Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George has ruled that the appointment of parliamentary secretaries was unlawful.

The Chief Justice did not grant any coercive order for the appointments to be reversed.

It is now in the hands of the Speaker of the National Assembly to act in accordance with the ruling.

The challenge was filed by APNU+AFC some three months after the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries Vickash Ramkissoon and Sarah Browne.

Arguments were put forward by Attorney for the applicant, Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde, Attorney General and Senior Counsel Anil Nandlall, and Manoj Narayan, who represented the Speaker of the National Assembly.

The APNU/AFC wanted the High Court to issue an order directing Speaker of the National Assembly Manzoor Nadir to prevent the two from sitting in the National Assembly as Parliamentary Secretaries.

The appointment of the Parliamentary Secretaries was made on September 15, which was day two of the budget debates. Browne, who was the Region One Vice Chairman, was appointed to assist Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai while Ramkissoon was appointed to assist Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, in discharging his duties.

At the time, this publication had interviewed Government Chief Whip and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Gail Teixeira, who had explained what the appointments mean and the fact that they are not a breach of the Constitution but rather, provided for in the constitutional reform process.

Joseph Hamilton, who is the current Minister of Labour, is a former Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health. Sukhai, on the other hand, previously served as a Parliamentary Secretary in the very Ministry she now heads.

The Attorney General has since indicated his intention to appeal the ruling.