OROPOUCHE EAST MP Roodal Moonilal will know today if he was successful in having the court stop the House of Representatives from debating the report of the Privileges Committee which recommended he apologise to the House and Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds for a statement he made in Parliament last October.
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Justice Jacqueline Wilson yesterday heard Moonilalâs injunction application at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain and reserved her decision to today.
The House sits today at 1.30 pm. The hearing was held in chamber yesterday after House Speaker Bridgid Annisette-Georgeâs attorney, Deborah Peake, SC, argued that the injunction application ought to be heard in private.
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«There is a rule and there should be no derogation of that rule,» she argued, despite Moonilalâs lead counsel Anand Ramlogan, SC, and the Attorney Generalâs lead counsel, Douglas Mendes, SC, saying the matter is of public interest and since it concerns the courtâs jurisdiction «interfering» with Parliament, it ought to be ventilated in public.
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Ramlogan said Moonilal is a Member of Parliament with constituents who have an interest in the matter as they too would be affected by the outcome of the case.
The judge agreed with Peake and ordered those who had no interest in the case to leave the courtroom.
In his application, Moonilal sought to have the court stop the Parliament from debating the Report of the Privileges Committee, which recommended that he apologise to the House and Hinds for uttering the words «Snake have lead for you» during crosstalk in the budget debate.
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In its report, which was tabled last week Tuesday, the Committee reported that the words uttered by Moonilal, were threatening in nature; brought the House and its proceedings into public odium; and Moonilal should apologise
The House of Representatives is expected to debate the committeeâs report today. Moonilal claimed he did not wish to subject himself to the jurisdiction of a Committee of Privileges that was not properly constituted in accordance with the Standing Orders; that was biased against him; one which would not afford him a fair hearing and which would be in violation of his fundamental rights to due process and natural justice
Earlier yesterday, speaking to the media on the steps of the Hall of Justice, Moonilal said it was not an issue of just apologising to Hinds. «I have no difficulty apologizing to Mr Hinds,» he told reporters
Insisting while he is not above the law, Moonilal said so too is the Speaker or any other public official and the Parliament is not above the law.
Moonilal was referred to the committee on November 2, after House Speaker Brigid An nisette-George ruled a strong case had been made out. In court yesterday was AG Faris Al Rawi.