By Alexis R. Milan
Leader of the People’s United Party, Francis Fonseca will take on Prime Minister Dean Barrow in the Supreme Court over the appointment of a 13th senator to represent non government organizations.
A Bill authorizing the Government to appoint a 13th senator was passed as a part of the Sixth Constitutional Amendment in 2010.
Although the Sixth Amendment was assented to by the Governor-General in March 2010, Sections (7) and (9) which deal specifically with the appointment of a 13th senator, have not become law.
“His refusal as Prime Minister to bring that section of the law into effect is wholly arbitrary. It’s illegal. It’s unlawful. It’s unconstitutional! The Governor-General has already assented to it, (but) he has just refused to bring it into law,” Fonseca argued during a press conference on Wednesday.
In April 2013, PM Barrow told the media at a national press conference, “I am very sorry, I am the one who pushed it into the U.D.P. manifesto, and this government pushed it forward in terms of constitutional reform. But then I quickly realized it is a wonderful idea but in practice it will make no sense!”
The official claim was filed at the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning. Francis Fonseca was named as the claimant, with the Prime Minister as first defendant, and the Attorney-General as second defendant.
Fonseca is asking the court to declare that the Prime Minister’s deliberate inaction regarding Sections (7) and (9) of the Sixth Amendment is unlawful. Fonseca is also petitioning the Court to order that the Prime Minister bring those sections of the law into force within 30 days of such a court order.
Attorney at law and Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay, is representing PUP Leader Fonseca in the claim. He points out that laws should theoretically take effect immediately after they have received the assent of the Governor-General, although there is some provision after assent to allow for administrative procedures and structures to be put in place.
Courtenay promised that when this case is heard, the Prime Minister will be called upon to explain to the court what, if any, are the administrative procedures that have held back Sections (7) and (9) of the Sixth Amendment for 5 years.
Courtenay indicated that his client will be requesting an early hearing from the Supreme Court. He said he has every confidence in the validity of the claim.