OROPOUCHE East constituents packed San Fernando High Court today and vowed to journey to Port of Spain in maxis for the next hearing of MP Dr Roodal Moonilal’s constitutional motion against the Parliament's Committee of Privileges.
Former attorney general Anand Ramlogan, SC, told Justice Avason Quinlan that a finding of contempt against Moonilal could disenfranchise his constituents.
The State, represented by Deborah Peake, SC, agreed to stay Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George's convening the committee meeting scheduled for yesterday to determine a complaint of contempt against Moonilal. The Speaker chairs the Privileges Committee.
The complaint arose from what Moonilal said on October 9 and 10 last year in the House of Representatives, against the Prime Minister and Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds.
On Monday, Moonilal filed a motion under section 14 of the Constitution, seeking an injunction against the committee's meeting as well as a declaration. The committee comprises seven members to consider the first complaint and eight, for the second.
Ramlogan, however, is contending that the standing orders prescribe six as the number of members for such a committee, and secondly, that the Speaker and Hinds are members of the committee.
Ramlogan, instructed by attorney Gerald Ramdeen, said in documents filed on Moonilal’s behalf that Hinds is the first complainant and a potential witness, while Annisette-George ruled to send the matter before the committee. Both, therefore, should automatically be disqualified. The Speaker prejudged the issue by her statement, Ramlogan said, that there was absolutely no place for violent and threatening language in the House.
Peake gave an undertaking that the committee will not meet until the hearing and determination of the case.
After the hearing, Moonilal commented, “To use a carnival expression, the Speaker back. She gave an undertaking that the Privileges Committee will not meet. I have all confidence in the courts, though I never thought that one day I’ll have to seek redress in the courts for a constitutional violation by the Parliament.”