With the government moving to legally challenge the outcome of the no-confidence vote against it, by examining the citizenship of its legislative defector, Opposition spokesperson on Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall does not see the wisdom in it.
In fact, Nandlall offered that “the law is not an a$$” that can be used and abused at the convenience of the Government.
On December 21, then government Member of Parliament, Charrandass Persaud supported an opposition sponsored no-confidence motion.
After failing to get the Speaker of the House to review the vote on Thursday, the Government announced its pursuit of legal challenges. One of those moves is to challenge the validity of Persaud’s vote, on the basis of his “unconstitutional” presence in the National Assembly.
The Government’s position is that it is unconstitutional for sitting Members of Parliament to be citizens of a foreign country.
Persaud currently holds dual-citizenship for Guyana and Canada and has been traveling on his Canadian passport. As such, the government believes that this condition would invalidate his controversial vote which would then be rendered null and void.
But although Nandlall accepts the unconstitutionality of Persaud’s presence in the National Assembly, he rejects the belief that the vote can be challenged on the basis of the defector’s Canadian citizenship.
In an interview last evening on his party’s radio station, the former Attorney General dismissed the Government’s contention that the legality of the vote can be challenged on this basis, arguing that the law cannot be used conveniently.
“The law is not an a$$. The law will not allow you to use it and abuse it at your own convenience. You cannot prostitute the law to meet your own ends. The law says that you cannot approbate and reprobate,” he said, adding that there are principles which the laws have established over the years that would prevent it from being exploited.
In breaking this down, the former AG said that the government, having accepted Charrandass’ votes on budgets and bills for the last three years, may be estopped from challenging its legality.
“The principle of estoppel can be invoked to prevent them from challenging it,” he said.
He said that even if this challenge makes it to court, there exists a provision in the law that states, that the defect in relation to anyone’s presence in the National Assembly, does not invalidate any proceedings that that person may have participated in. The defect in this case, would be Charrandass having dual citizenship.
“In other words, if a person who is in the National Assembly is not qualified to be there, the fact that he is there and he participated in the proceedings although he was not supposed to be there, does not invalidate what was done before” Nandlall reasoned.
He maintained however, that the government has a weak case if it proceeds in this direction, since they have benefitted from the same individual’s votes in the past.
“You can’t benefit from the wrong and then invoke the wrong when it suits you, and take advantage of the wrong” he admonished. (Ravin Singh)