The Court of Appeal comprising Justices of Appeal Allan Mendoca, Gregory Smith and Prakash Moosai dismissed the appeal filed by the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) supporters Mr. Stephen Mitchell and Dayne Evan Francois and ordered them to pay the legal costs of the State in the Constitutional Amendment Bill with the run off provision. Newly appointed Deputy Political Leader Rekha Ramjit appeared for the ILP whilst Attorney General Ramlogan appeared for the State with Zelica Haynes Soo-Hon.
In his address to the Court, AG Ramlogan stated that the claim was speculative, academic and premature. He said the evidence was weak as Mr. Mitchell had not yet even been declared a candidate for the ILP and even if he was, there was no guarantee that anyone would vote for him. Farless, whether a run-off would be necessary.
Ramlogan told the Court that it would be an impermissible intrusion on Parliament’s right to pass laws and it would be improper for the Court to grant pre-emptive relief designed to influence the outcome of the debate or legislation. He submitted that Members of Parliament were entitled to freedom of political expression in the Parliament and this was expressly protected by the Constitution to such an extent that they could be sued for anything said during debated as it was considered privileged.
Deputy Political Leader of the ILP argued that the Bill if passed would deny her client the opportunity to challenge the law in time for the general elections. Mendonca, JA commented that the next general elections were not due until September 2015 and said the Court could not speculate on when general elections will be called. Ramlogan denied that the Bill deprived any citizen of a constitutional right and reserved to the position of the State on this issue in the event if it became necessary to argue the questions.
The Court agreed to the submissions of the AG Ramlogan and delivered an oral judgment, dismissing the Appeal with costs.
MINISTRY OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
10 NOVEMBER 2014