May 14, 2001
By Trini News
The Appeal Court has reserved its ruling in the appeals of Junior Ministers Winston "Gypsy" Peters and William Chaitan against the March 9 decision of Justice Ivor Archie to dismiss their constitutional motions.
In the motions Gypsy and Chaitan are claiming that their constitutional rights were being infringed by the filing of election petitions against them by defeated PNM candidates Franklin Khan and Farad Khan. They aren’t related.
The hearing of the petitions has been put to May 25 to determine when the substantive hearing could go on.
What is certain is that the ruling in the appeals will not be given before two weeks because at the end of the hearing Friday, Chaitan’s attorney, Fenton Ramsahoye, asked the court whether he could be away for two weeks and he was told that he could.
The court comprising Chief Justice Michael de la Bastide, Sat Sharma and Rolston Nelson heard extensive submissions over four days.
The Chief Justice said he will notify the attorneys about the date of the judgment. "We would like to give it as soon as practical," he said. But he also warned that because of the complexity of the issues involved in the case "it will take some time, but we will do our best to give it as soon as reasonably possible".
The court has to determine a number of issues including:
• Whether attorneys for Gypsy and Chaitan were entitled to be heard when the applications for leave (permission) to file the election petitions was heard before Justice Gregory Smith last December.
• Whether the election petitions are invalid because the Rules Committee failed to make rules for the hearing of the election petitions.
• Whether Gypsy and Chaitan were qualified to be elected to the House of Representatives after renouncing their United States and Canadian citizenships respectively and whether the relevant date for qualification is Nomination Day or Election Day.
• Whether despite the absence of the Rules from the Rules Committee, the High court could validly continue to hear and determine the election petitions.
May 10, 2001
If dual citizenship disqualifies a citizen from taking part in the government of Trinidad and Tobago, it should be made clear by constitutional amendment, lawyer Ramsahoye for Pointe-a-Pierre MP William Chaitan said in court yesterday.
Ramsahoye suggested an amendment of Section 48 (1) of the Constitution, which disqualifies from the House of Representatives a person who voluntarily acquired another citizenship.
This is not entrenched and could be amended by a simple majority in Parliament, he said. Lawyers for Chaitan and Ortoire/Mayaro MP Winston "Gypsy" Peters are before Chief Justice Michael de la Bastide and Justices Sat Sharma and Rolston Nelson in the Court of Appeal.
They are challenging the March 9 ruling of Justice Ivor Archie in the Port-of-Spain Third Civil Court that their clients' rights were not contravened by election petitions brought against them by losing PNM candidates Farad Khan and Franklin Khan. Hearing continues today.
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