CNS Channel Six licence suspension hearing…
Judge out of jurisdiction
Justice William Ramlal was expected to make a ruling on whether President Bharrat Jagdeo has absolute immunity from prosecution and whether the court has jurisdiction to hear a complaint against him.
CNS proprietor and talk-show host, Chandra Narine Sharma has taken the Head of State to task over the suspension of his broadcast licence.
Sharma has named Attorney General Doodnauth Singh as the respondent in a constitutional motion against President Jagdeo.
The motion, seeking a conservative order to rescind the suspension, was filed by Attorneys-at-Law Nigel Hughes, Khemraj Ramjattan and Stephen Fraser.
President Bharrat Jagdeo, acting in his capacity as Minister of Information, ordered a four-month suspension after threats were made to his life during a live call-in programme.
Yesterday, the judge was expected to make a ruling on a preliminary point.
However, lawyers for Sharma reported that Justice Ramlal is out of the jurisdiction and is expected to return on Tuesday.
They are awaiting word from the judge on how to proceed with the case.
The Attorney General and Ramjattan have already handed over written submissions to the court.
The AG contends that President Jagdeo is not answerable to any legal authority for his decision to suspend the licence or any other decision made during the performance of his functions.
He that said the President is not answerable to any court and enjoys absolute immunity from all types of prosecution both in his private or official capacity.
“This is a standard protocol throughout the world and follows the principle that the President can do no wrong,” the Chief State representative detailed.
In reply, Hughes dismissed the contention that the President’s immunity is absolute, stating that the law of immunity is only applicable in his private capacity.
Hughes argued that the President is not above judicial or legislative powers and enjoys no protection should he violate the fundamental rights of a citizen.
“In addition, he could only use the powers given to him as Minister responsible for Broadcasting and not as President,” Hughes explained.
Judge Ramlal had requested disclosure on whether damages can be awarded against the State should the President be found in violation of the Constitution.
He had also asked the parties to submit legal authorities on whether the Attorney General can be called to answer regardless of the President’s immunity from prosecution.
Sharma is seeking a declaration that the suspension of his licence by the Minister responsible for telecommunications is a breach of his right to secure protection of the law.
The motion also includes a request for a declaration that the decision of the Information Minister to hear and determine a complaint in which he was the subject matter is in breach of the rules of natural justice and fairness; and as such is null, void and of no lawful effect.
There is also a request for a conservatory order repealing the suspension of the licence until the determination of the motion..