Saturday, November 24, 2012

President has no authority to launch political probe of government: AG Ramlogan

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan issued a media release Friday pointing out that the president has no constitutional authority to institute a political probe or inquiry into the actions of the government. 

Ramlogan was reacting to an attempt by Opposition leader Keith Rowley and other anti-government political groups to get President George Maxwell Richards to investigate the government. 

He said the role of the President in a Westminster system of parliamentary democracy is largely ceremonial and non-executive in nature and it would be a misuse and flagrant abuse of Section 81 of the constitution for the president to act on his own against the government.

"This is not the purpose, remit or function of section 81, which is designed to keep the President informed," the AG said.

He added, "Parliament is the appropriate organ of state for the opposition to question the action of the government in any matter. 

"It is the duty of the opposition to scrutinise and criticise the government. That is not the function of the President as demonstrated by his silence during the tenure of the PNM administration despite its many transgressions."

Ramlogan said, "It is therefore a matter of grave concern that Dr. Rowley has once again attempted to drag the office of the President into the cut and trust of the political arena. Any such action, coming in the ‘las lap’ of his present term in office is bound to be interpreted as partisan and political.

"The suggestion that the President could somehow launch an inquiry or appoint a Commission of Inquiry is misconceived. 

"In any event, Acting President Timothy Hamel-Smith has already issued a statement on behalf of the office of the President in this matter. He found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the entire government and concluded that the Prime Minister had already taken appropriate action."

Ramlogan explained that Commissions of Enquiry are appointed by the President pursuant to Section 2 of the Commissions of Enquiry Act Ch.19.01 where he deems it advisable to do so "to enquire in to any matter of public concern which in his opinion would be inter alia, for the public welfare."

He said, "The power so conferred is not personal to the President nor is it a matter for his unfettered discretion.

"Section 80 (1) of our Constitution, which provides that in the discharge of his functions under the Constitution or any law he must act on the advice of Cabinet unless this is clearly and unequivocally dispensed with by the law itself and an independent and unfettered discretion is expressly conferred upon him by the legislation in question .

"This is not the case with Section 2 of the Commissions of Enquiry Ac.

"This is consistent with proper historical constitutional practice. The President always acts on the advice of Cabinet in appointing Commissions of Enquiry. He would be acting contrary to hallowed constitutional theory and practice if he purported to act without the advice of Cabinet.

"The President would be stepping outside his constitutional boundary if he were to attempt on his own volition to appoint a Commission of Inquiry without the sanction of Cabinet’s advice or approval. 

"This is an absolute condition precedent to any action by the President in this regard. Any action by the President in response to Dr. Rowley’s demands is likely to be undemocratic, unconstitutional and illegal."

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai