Mon | Jul 16, 2018

Golding finally agrees with me

Published:Friday | March 24, 2017 | 12:00 AM


I'm grateful to Prime Minister Bruce Golding for eventually agreeing with me, as he did in his March 23 Letter of the Day, that: "The supremacy of Jamaica's Constitution is not in question. Neither is the authority of the court to adjudicate on any action of Parliament that may contravene the Constitution."

Previously, based entirely on the practices of the British House of Commons and a British Judicial Committee report, he maintained:

1 "My concern is with the attempt to have the court interfere in the proceedings of Parliament"; and

2 "I know of no situation in which the court can intervene [to block the discretion of the speaker to permit reference to any matter on which a judicial decision is pending once the reference is not made 'in such a way as might prejudice the interests of the parties thereto'] even if that discretion is recklessly exercised."

Mr Golding contradicts himself. Were he still in politics, I might call it flip-flopping. He has now admitted that whether it is by discussion, reference or passage of law, the court may, in his words, "adjudicate on any action of Parliament that may contravene the Constitution".

This is confirmed in Section 13(2)(b) of the new Charter of Rights as follows:

"Parliament shall pass no law and no organ of the State shall take any action which abrogates, abridges or infringes those rights."

I remind Mr Golding (gently) that neither of us is commenting on the details of a PNP MP's case. We are discussing the power of the court to prevent any state organ, including the auditor general or contractor general, from tabling any report IF it apprehends a breach of the Charter of Rights.