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Supreme Court to rule on Senate Impasse

Featured Christopher Tufton and Arthur Williams - Observer Photo Christopher Tufton and Arthur Williams - Observer Photo
KINGSTON, February 24, 2015- Clerk to the Houses of  Parliament Mrs. Heather Cooke, has filed an application in the Supreme Court on Monday  asking for a determination on the status of  Arthur Williams and Dr. Christopher Tufton who have resumed their seats in the Senate.

This follows a resolution passed in the Senate two weeks ago for the Senate to seek guidance from the Supreme Court on their status.

The claim was filed on behalf of  the Clerk, by attorney -at-law Michael Hylton.

Williams, Tufton and the two men who replaced them, Dr Nigel Clarke and Ruel Reid have been named as respondents in the claim that is to be served on all the respondents, including the  Attorney General .

The Clerk is asking the Supreme Court to determine whether Williams and Tufton are still Senators in accordance with the Constitution or whether  Clarke and  Reid should remain in the seats.

The application made for declaratory relief  under the Constitution is set for hearing next Tuesday.

On that day, an application will be made for Opposition Leader Andrew Holness, to be joined in the matter. 

On February 13 the Senate passed a resolution for a final determination on which Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Senators are duly appointed to the Senate.

Williams and Tufton reclaimed their seats in the Senate after the Constitutional Court ruled that the Opposition Leader acted unlawfully in removing them by using pre-signed resignation letters.

Meanwhile, Hylton says the Opposition Leader is being joined in the matter to give him an opportunity to defend his actions

He added that the Senate has taken the right course of  action despite criticism from legal experts who insist that the ruling of  the Constitutional Court is final.   

In the meantime, Williams has rejected a proposal JLP leader Andrew Holness on a possible solution to the impasse.

Holness has suggested that the matter could be settled by any of  the affected parties offering a letter of  resignation.

Holness who was a guest on the morningTVJ  television programme Smile Jamaica, says the matter could be settled by any of  the affected parties offering a letter of  resignation.

“We want them to be senators, I have no ill will or malice. But there is a simple solution – everyone who wants to be senators, could submit their letters of resignation and I reappoint them – and the matter is closed,” Holness declared.

In addressing calls for his resignation, in light of  the court ruling that the use of  pre-signed letters of  resignation to remove both men from the Senate was unconstitutional, Holness said he had taken responsibility for what transpired but he does not agree with calls to resign.

“You know I looked at it carefully because more than anything else I have to preserve my integrity  - it was an after the fact decision, I didn’t go in with the intension of breaching the constitution. I didn’t do it out of ill will or malice, so my conscience is clear.”