The Court of Appeal today upheld a decision of the High Court that People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) 2020 Candidates Vickash Ramkissoon and Sarah Browne are not eligible for appointment to the National Assembly as non-voting members.
Brown and Ramkissoon were appointed as the Government’s Parliamentary Secretaries by President Irfaan Ali. However, the Opposition Chief Whip Christopher Jones challenged the appointments in the High Court.
Chief Justice (ag), Roxane George nullified the appointments on the grounds that both appointments were unconstitutional.
Hoping to overturn that decision, Brown and Ramkissoon moved to the Court of Appeal but their hopes of taking up seats in the National Assembly as non-voting members were shattered today with Justice of Appeal, Dawn Gregory, affirming that the appointments as Parliamentary Secretaries and non-voting Members of the National Assembly were unlawful.
“It is ordered that the second and third appellants are not lawful members of the National Assembly as their names appeared on their party’s list of candidates for the election held in March 2020, and their names were not among the 33 names of persons extracted to take up seats in the National Assembly as such, they are not eligible to take up seats as non-voting members of the Assembly by Executive appointments as Parliamentary Secretaries,” Justice Gregory ruled.
Justice Gregory ruled that the appointments were in breach of the Constitution. She also ruled that in this case, the Appellate Court was bound by the decision in the case of the Attorney General v. Desmond Morian.
In that case, both the High Court and Court of Appeal ruled that the then Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, Keith Scott and the Minister of Citizenship Winston Felix could not sit in the House as Technocrat Ministers on the basis that they were listed on the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) List of Candidates.
Though the Attorney General Anil Nandlall, while in Opposition, was the lead attorney representing Morian in that case and won it at both the High Court and Appeal Court levels, he found himself in a peculiar position, arguing against the very case, in an attempt to defend the appointments of Ramkissoon and Brown.
The appeal by the two former Parliamentary Secretaries was completely dismissed.