Assembly receives report on judicial interference


13-September-2017

At the start of its 3rd Term yesterday the National Assembly received a report from a select committee on judicial interference it set up at the end of June this year to investigate why some members of parliament were being served with summons in the Assembly precinct considered a violation under Article 102 (2) of the Constitution and Section 9 of the National Assembly Privileges, Immunities and Powers Act 2005.

As agreed by the House, the committee also considered other aspects which could help preserve and uphold the importance of the National Assembly. It was made up of members from both parties and was chaired by the leader of the opposition Wavel Ramkalawan and its vice-chairperson was the leader of government business Charles De Commarmond.

The committee’s investigation included interviewing different persons who had anything to do with the  incident such as security personnel as well as those who received the documents at the Assembly, the registrar of the Supreme Court, the process server who served the summons, lawyers who are members of the Assembly.

The committee found that serving summons in the National Assembly precinct was in breach of Article 102 (2) of the Constitution and Section 9 of the National Assembly Privileges, Immunities and Powers Act 2005.

“The committee also discovered that not only was the process server from the Supreme Court not aware of all his responsibilities but the National Assembly security was also not aware how to act when faced with such a situation. It was also discovered that there were instances where the judiciary adopted a hard line approach towards lawyers who also have responsibilities as Assembly members,” Mr Ramkalawan said.

He added that in that respect the committee has reviewed and discussed the role of the two important institutions and called for more cooperation between the two.

Meanwhile Mr Ramkalawan said the committee deplores the fact that the Anti-victimisation committee is facing a Court case and stressed that the Assembly has the power to call in individuals but not as in a Court but as part of its work to resolve various elements of conflict.

He said the committee has once again called on the judiciary not to interfere in its work.

While focusing on preserving the ‘sanctity of the Parliament’ the committee has also affirmed that it is important for the Assembly to recognise the independence of the Judiciary and the role of other arms of government as well as the commitment of their leaders’ to work together.

Among the different recommendations presented in the report include: that both National Assembly and Judiciary staff members receive more training immediately to boost their understanding of the two institutions’ functions, operations and understanding of the laws and regulations that guide procedures and relations between different institutions; that judiciary staff has a good understanding of relevant Articles of the Constitution as well as the National Assembly Privileges, Immunities and Powers Act and that the National Assembly staff also has a good understanding of the Judiciary authority as defined in the Constitution.

Another recommendation calls for the clerk of the Assembly to communicate important information to the registrar of the Supreme Court such as the calendar of sessions including special sessions, international missions programme of MNAs who are also lawyers, addresses of MNAs for the purpose that the Court needs to serve them a summon, that an exercise is carried out to demarcate the precinct of the National Assembly and that an agreement is signed between the Assembly and the Judiciary to establish positive working parametres between the two institutions and that a code of conduct for Assembly secretariat staff and those on contract be defined to limit their personal communication on social media during working hours…

It now remains for all the recommendations to be turned into action. 

 

 

 

 

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