Town Clerk of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC), Royston King was unsuccessful in his attempt to obstruct the work of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into City Hall’s operations on Monday, having filed an affidavit challenging the legality over the CoI’s establishment.
However, Chairman of the CoI, Retired Justice Cecil Kennard ruled that the probe was duly constituted in accordance to provisions that were made under the Local Government Commission Act and supplemental law books.
King was subpoenaed to present himself for questioning and he turned up on Monday with his attorney, Maxwell Edwards at the Critchlow Labour College.
A five-page affidavit was submitted which questioned the manner in which the inquiry was established and its legality.
“In terms of the affidavit, it says that…the Commission must be declined jurisdiction to conduct this inquiry and the basis to that is I would submit that this Commission is void and a nullity on two grounds,” the Town Clerk’s attorney said.
Edwards made his argument stating that the Local Government Commission Act does not permit for an investigation to be delegated to a Commission of Inquiry but only that of a local authority.
His second point alluded to the Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01; which states that the Communities Minister, Ronald Bulkan is responsible for establishing such an investigation. He further stated that this was not done since the Local Government Commission was the respective body that launched the investigation.
“The first of which is the jurisdictional ground and that has to do with the interpretation of Section 14 (1) and (2) of the Local Government Commission Act under which this Commission has been established,” said Edwards.
Further he added, “having a right under the eighth schedule [of Chapter 28:01] to establish a Commission. Certainly, this is not a Commission established by the Minister [of Communities].”
However, the response from the Commission’s lawyer, Everton Singh-Lammy submitted that the CoI was established legitimately under provisions made by the Local Government Commission Act and the appeal was effectively dismissed by evidence presented in Section 14.
He further noted that sections of Chapter 28:01 were exercised in the Local Government Commission Act.
Singh-Lammy referenced from the Act and stated, “For the purpose of the exercise and discharge of its function, the commission shall have the power to initiate and conduct investigations into the activities into any local government organ.”
“For the purpose of dealing with matters before it, the commission shall have all the powers to submit witnesses and all the privileges and immunities as vested in a Commission appointed under the Commissions of Inquiry Act,” Section 14 (2) continues.
The Chairman then ruled, “The magnitude of such an investigation demands that the inquiry be conducted by a trained legal person and not laid persons who are commissioners of the Local Government Commission and one would have to adopt a realistic approach and examine all the relevant sections. Does that mean that the Local Government Commission cannot delegate some of its functions? Surely not. That would be adopting a very narrow view.”
“I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at the various legislations, statutes and I’ve come to the conclusion that this Commission of Inquiry was properly set up.”
King was summoned to appear before the CoI yet again on Friday where he will answer questions regarding several matters which were highlighted at the prior sessions.
This includes the no-confidence motion that was dismissed after opinions were sought from his lawyer and the land owned by NICIL which was leased to a shipping company.