Court Stops Boundaries Debate In Parliament

Gaston Browne

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Antigua Labour Party (ALP) leader Gaston Browne said the Court of Appeal’s decision to put the brakes on government’s planned debate of the Boundaries Commission Report has prevented what he calls “a perversion of justice.”

He said an injustice would have occurred if, in the face of the pending appeal against the report, government used its Parliamentary majority to debate and approve the controversial document that proposes “questionable” changes to the delineations to several constituencies boundaries.

“What the prime minister was seeking to do in the interim, was to take the matter to Parliament before it would have been heard by the appeals court and get it passed and assented to by the governor general; after which, if the appeal was in our favour, the ruling would have been redundant. What he sought to do was to disrespect the chief justice, the appeal court…” Browne said.

But, the ALP leader revealed that the Court of Appeal thwarted government’s plans by issuing an Order halting the debate – at least until January 7, 2014, or the completion of the ALP’s appeal against High Court Justice Brian Cottle’s earlier ruling that approved the preparation process of the said boundaries report.

The Order, granted yesterday by Chief Justice Janice Pereira, states, “Execution of and/or all further proceedings incidental to the execution of the judgment of His Lordship, Justice Brian Cottle, contained in a judgment dated December 3, 2013 be stayed until January 7, 2014 or the determination of the application dated December 6, 2013.”

Initially, the application was set to be heard on January 21, 2014, but it was brought forward to January 7.

It would be heard by a single judge of the Court of Appeal, possibly via teleconference.

(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)