By Aabiyagle McIntosh
Fresh insights have emerged regarding the recent verdict from the High Court in the dispute involving St. Peter Member of Parliament, Asot Michael.
The court’s decision to dismiss Michael’s challenge against his parliamentary suspension has shed light on the legal intricacies surrounding the matter.
On Wednesday morning, the High Court ruled that it lacked jurisdiction over the internal proceedings of the legislative body. Furthermore, the court turned down Michael’s request for an injunction to revoke his suspension from the Lower House.
Notably, Dr. David Dorsette, the legal representative for Speaker of the House Sir Gerald Watt KC, contended that the Speaker contested the court’s authority to dictate or influence the functioning of the Parliament.
In a recent interview with state media, Dr. Dorsette highlighted a constitutional provision stating that matters conducted within the House are not subject to judicial review.
Termed as the “privileges clause,” this provision typically arises in the context of statements made by parliamentarians.
Dr. Dorsette clarified that this clause is intended to safeguard the autonomy of parliamentary proceedings from external legal intervention.
“Anything that they say in Parliament cannot be the subject of a court case; usually, it rises in the context where persons alleged that they have been defamed in Parliament and the law and the constitution say that whatever is said cannot be inquired into court, but it applies not just to things said but to things done,” Dorsette explained.
He also stated that the ruling also affirms the Parliament’s ability to affirm order in its proceedings.
“Given that the House has the authority to regulate its procedures and its proceedings to the extent that things are getting out of hand, members are acting unruly, disruptive etc. the House would have the power to take appropriate action so that order can be restored to the House and the honor of the House is maintained”.