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Ramesh: De la Bastide wrong

...President can use discretion on Constitution bill
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj

Former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj yesterday disagreed with a statement by the president of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that President Anthony Carmona must act in accordance with Section 80 of the Constitution when dealing with the controversial Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014.

In a daily newspaper yesterday, CCJ President Michael de la Bastide said the President must act in accordance with Section 80 of the Constitution which states that all of the president’s powers are exercised on the advice of Cabinet. Maharaj said, however, that Carmona had the power by law to withhold his assent of the bill and engage the public in consultations.

Quoting Section 80, Maharaj said, “the President shall act in accordance with the advice of Cabinet or a Minister acting under the general authority of Cabinet, except in cases where he is given by the Constitution a discretion to act.” Under Section 39, Maharaj said, the President was the head of Parliament.

“Although I have the greatest respect for de la Bastide as a former chief justice, head of the CCJ and great lawyer I disagree with him because the President is not acting in an executive capacity, he is acting as head of the Parliament in a legislative capacity. I am saying with the greatest respect to de la Bastide that he is wrong and the greatest judges have been held to be wrong by even the most junior lawyers.”

Maharaj said assuming that Carmona was not acting in a legislative capacity and acted under Section 80, that section “expressly states that when he acts under his discretion he does not have to act on the advice of Cabinet.”


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