PNM gets leave to file petitions
December 21, 2000
ATTORNEYS representing the PNM yesterday succeeded in getting leave (permission) to file representation petitions against Winston “Gypsy” Peters and William Chaitan.
Justice Gregory Smith, presiding in the Port of Spain Chamber Court, granted the attorneys leave at 6.25 p.m. yesterday.
The decision means that the attorneys will have to formally file the representation petitions in the Port of Spain High Court registry and on attorneys representing Gypsy, who won the Ortoire/Mayaro seat for the ruling UNC in the December 11 general election, and Chaitan, who was successful in Pointe-a-Pierre.
That was expected to be done either last night or today. A date will then be set by the Registrar of the Supreme Court for the hearing of the matter. The matter is expected to be heard expeditiously.
THE Representation of the People’s Act provides for representation petitions to be made to question the validity of an appointment to the House of Representatives.
There are a number of steps which must be followed.
The petition must be delivered to the Registrar of the Supreme Court who will cause the petition to be published.
The petitioners, in this case defeated PNM candidates Franklin Khan (Ortoire/Mayaro) and Farad Khan (Pointe-a-Pierre), are required to give security of $20,000 at the time of presenting the petition or within three days thereafter, for all costs which may become payable by them to any witnesses summoned on their behalf.
Within five days after the petition is filed, the petitioners shall serve on the respondents, in this case (Winston “Gypsy” Peters and Bill Chaitan), a notice of the presentation of the petition and the nature of the proposed security.
The respondents can object in writing to the security within ten days of the presentation of the petitions. If an objection is allowed, the petitioner may within a further period of five days remove it by a deposit. The Registrar will hear the objections, if any.
Once the time for objections expires or if there were no objections, the petition will then be heard in open court in the High Court. Notice of the time and place of the trial will be given 14 days before the day of the trial.
Once the hearing begins, the trial judge has a discretion to adjourn the trial from time to time. However, the Act provides that the “trial shall, so far as is practicable consistently with the interests of justice in respect of the trial, be continued from day to day on every lawful day until its conclusion”.
Witnesses are expected to be called. Should the PNM succeed, the trial judge will have the option of declaring the PNM candidates winners of the respective seats.
The Constitution provides that the highest court in election petitions is the Appeal Court and not the Privy Council.