Attorney Gregory Delzin yesterday agreed with former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj that a debate was not allowed at the Electoral College stage of the failed attempt to remove President Paula-Mae Weekes by the Opposition last Thursday.
Delzin made the comment as a guest on CNC3’s special, “The Impeachment Saga, What’s Next,” which aired last night, saying it was clear to him that a debate was not constitutionally allowed.
“The way that Section 36 is structured, the decision by Parlament by a one-third majority vote is to simply send it to the Electoral College for a decision. There is nothing in the Constitution, in my view, that permits a debate at this stage,” Delzin said.
“One of the things you have to recognise is that only a one-third vote is needed, it is not even a process that calls for a majority vote, so, therefore, what is the purpose of debate in a circumstance like that?” he asked.
He said the one-third vote was only to determine whether the matter needed to go to the Electoral College.
“The other point that needs to be made is that it is the Electoral College that decides whether it should go to the tribunal, it is not Parliament, it is not the House of Representatives, it is not the Senate. Therefore, the Standing Orders do not necessarily apply,” he said.
Delzin said the Standing Orders are also prefaced by the words “except by the Constitution.”
“Standing Orders, and I agree with Mr (Ramesh Lawrence) Maharaj, is a subsidiary subject to the Constitution, and unless there are clear words on Section 36 that demand a debate, its discussion at the stage, the Speaker does not have the room to add or interpret the Constitution in a manner that takes it outside the intent of Section 32,” Delzin said.
Section 32 deals with the amendments to motions.
Delzin said that the argument that the House also regulates its own operations does not apply in this case.
Former Police Service Commission chair and former Speaker of the House, Nizam Mohammed, also agreed with both Delzin and Maharaj.
He spoke briefly about the next options for the selection of the Police Commissioner.
“This entire confusion started with the Police Service Commission and I think it ended with the Police Service Commission when all the members resigned and we were left without a Police Service Commission,” Mohammed said.
“I believe that the next step is that we are running late in the establishment of a new Police Service Commission,” he said.
Mohammed said that with the differing views and continued discussions, he hopes that the “powers that be would have been a bit more diligent in having a functional, or rather a functioning Police Service Commission by now.”
“As a result of the mass resignation of the Police Service Commission, we are now left with a Police Service without its proper structure and that, to my mind, is a very very serious and a very worrying situation,” Mohammed said.
He said “certain developments” taking place within the Police Service were also cause for concern.
“We need the institutions in place and properly staffed and properly equipped to ensure that we follow the procedures this time and we do not repeat the mistakes that were made in the past,” Mohammed said.
“To me, that is extremely critical at this stage.”
The former PSC had a merit list of individuals qualified to be installed as Commissioner of Police but it was withdrawn after an alleged meeting with a Government official on August 12 at President’s House.
Mohammed said the new PSC should be allowed to do their own work.