Wednesday, December 19, 2012

President has no power to act against government: Seetahal

A former president of the Law Association said Tuesday President Max Richards does not have powers under the T&T constitution to act on his own initiative in relation to specific matters of governance beyond his "separate" powers to appoint Independent senators, members of service commissions and the Chief Justice.
Dana Seetahal, SC

Dana Seethal, SC, was commenting to local media about suggestions by the opposition that the President could act against the government in relation to Section 34.

She said the president cannot take action leading to the dismissal of any minister arising from the proclamation and repeal of Section 34. "He can’t do that. The President could advise or possibly warn the Government about courses of conduct but at the end of the day he has to act in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet,” Seetahal told the Guardian newspaper.

She added, "He could do what he has done, which is asking for information. Where he goes with it from that is another question. I don’t know.”

The former Independent senator also contradicted Opposition Leader Keith Rowley, who stated that no president has used Section 81 to seek information from a prime minister.

She said former president Arthur NR Robinson acted under Section 81 when he wanted to know more about the appointment of government senators during the Basdeo Panday administration. 

Seetahal explained that the Constitution provides for the President to seek information from the Prime Minister on any aspect of governance and that he can act on his own in that respect. 

"If it is, to him, something significant in the public domain and as President he would like to be informed—even though he is not an executive president—he has the means to know what is happening in the country. I think that is a good thing.”

However, she was clear that all the President has done is to keep abreast, "because he does not have the executive power to go further with this as I see it."

Last month, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan stated that the President would be stepping out of his constitutional boundary if uses Section 81 to seek answers on the Section 34 issue.

"It would be a misuse and flagrant abuse of Section 81 of the Constitution for his Excellency to institute a political probe or enquiry into the actions of the Government," Ramlogan said in a media release. "This is not the purpose, remit or function of Section 81, which is designed to keep the President informed," Ramlogan added.

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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