May 13, 2023 Features / Columnists
Kaieteur News- The APNU has become an embarrassment. Following its disgraceful conduct when it defiled the National Assembly, it has begun genuinely to believe its own propaganda that the Speaker of the National Assembly is being biased against the APNU+AFC.
The APNU has failed to make out such a case. If it were in a court room, there would have been a no-case submission.
Indeed, if the PNCR carefully studies the rulings of the present Speaker, it would find that in the overwhelming majority of the cases, the Speaker has been correct in his rulings. This includes the latest ruling concerning the refusal to suspend the business of the National Assembly to debate oil spill protection coverage – an issue that has been in the public domain long before the recent court decision by Justice Sandil Kissoon.
Rule 26 of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly prohibits the admissibility of a motion relating to a matter that is under adjudication before the Court. As such, so long as the Speaker was in receipt of information that the Environmental Protection Agency had appealed the decision of Justice Sandil Kissoon, he cannot admit such a motion before the Assembly.
The APNU is contending that the Speaker is in contradiction to a previous ruling in which he has said that unless a date is set for a court matter and judge or judges assigned, it is not sub judice. That previous ruling is correct also because a matter can only be deemed sub judice once court proceedings have commenced.
However, in this instance, this is an appeal case. As such, the matter was already before the Court and an appeal has since been filed. The mere filing of the appeal – not the setting of the date for its hearing – renders the matter ineligible to be debated by the National Assembly. If on the other hand, the matter was being filed, either civilly or criminally, for the first time, it would not be sub judice unless a date was set for its first hearing.
If the APNU does not understand these distinctions, it will continue to embarrass itself. And it will find it even more difficult to restore its tattered credibility.
The APNU has fallen for its own propaganda. In order to justify the raucous behaviour of some of its members during the debate of the Natural Resource Fund Act, it has sought refuge in the narrative that it is a victim of unfair treatment in the country’s National Assembly. It is playing the victim game.
And it appears as if the APNU has begun to believe its own discredited narrative. If the APNU closely analyzes the decisions of the Speaker, it will find that much of the complaints which it is making are unjustified and without any merit.
Even if the EPA had not appealed the decision of the Judge, it is not likely that the matter would have been admissible as a definite matter of urgent public importance. There are criteria which have to be established in order for such a motion to be admissible.
There is no doubt that the matter was definite. There is no doubt that it is of public importance. But it is not necessarily meet the criteria of urgent since the court has been hearing the matter for months and it is not an emergency.
In a previous decision in the National Assembly, and which forms part of the compendium of Rulings by Speakers, it was stated therein that, “the matter must have arisen suddenly in the manner of an emergency and should not have arisen over a series of weeks”.
This column had previously dealt with the issue of what qualifies a motion as being a definite matter of urgent public importance. A previous Speaker had explained the qualification of urgency.
He had said that, “The matter must be a clear emergency. It must have arisen suddenly in a manner of an emergency and should not have arisen over a series of weeks.” He went on to quote Erskine May as follows: “The matter must not be a grievance that is continuing which does not qualify as a sufficient matter of urgent public importance.”
Does the Judge’s decision create a public emergency to the point of it being necessary to adjourn the normal business of the National Assembly? Was it something that had arisen suddenly and which precluded notice for consideration in the ordinary manner of other motions? Not at all! And once appeal proceedings were filed, the motion could not be admissible under Rule 26.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Kaieteur News.
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