WRONG_WOEID WRONG_WOEID

Parliamentary History- Judicial Mystery

Time marches onFrom “...Slavery and bondage to Emancipation [1834]; ...from Adult Suffrage [1951] and British Colonialism [July 1, 1956-February 26, 1967]; ...then from Associated Statehood [February 27, 1967-October 31, 1981] ...to Independence” [November 1, 1981],

Internal developments have made the nation’s history “...eventful and colorful; ...interesting, yet frightening; ...baffling and amusing; ...thought-provoking and mysterious.” The “...Compulsory Dissolution of Parliament” makes a worthwhile topic, not only for discussions, but suggested “...Parliamentary history. Then with delayed judgments that made it into the records as “...Judicial Oddities,” posterity may have many things to ponder over.” These developments, therefore, will be recorded in its historical and jurisprudence annals across the region and by extension, throughout the British Commonwealth.

STATE OF PERPLEXITY

Considering the urgency of the electoral situation, delayed judgments in two important electoral cases, had not only provoked consternation in incumbents, but had also triggered widespread heated discussions by “...legal luminaries; ...political scientists; ...analysts; ...pollsters; ...Students of Law; ...Voters and laymen, across the political divide.” To all intents and purposes, its delay had met with “...national rebuffs; ...spurred suspicions of calculated delay.” Thus, with Parliament constitutionally dissolved at midnight on April 26, 2014, the Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Baldwin Spencer, even with constitutional and professionals offering legal advice, appeared to have found himself in a “ ...State of perplexity, anxiety and uncertainty.” It shall be appreciated that in governance, as it was in “...private affairs,” while third party opinions are welcomed, “...professionally reasoned and carefully analyzed advice offered by a Government’s Principal Legal Adviser, may not be ignored.

TIME MARCHES ON

When Trinidad and Tobago’s social commentator Michael Anthony Osuana spoke to “...Time,” he had advanced many valid reasons. He sang “...Time marches on; ...Time waits on no man; and ...If you don’t move with time, you will loss” [Sugar Aloes]. It was obvious that “...Time” had impacted on every player, electoral agencies and judicial and legal institutions. These include “...ABE Commission; ...Constituencies Boundaries Commission; ...the Honourable Prime Minister; ...the Judiciary, and most importantly, the Electoral processes.” For the Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Baldwin Spencer, time may not necessarily have been a factor in dissolving Parliament before April 27, 2014. However, in the instant situation, critics believed that “...Indecision and/or Good/Bad Legal Advice” may haveresulted in him allowing the automatic dissolution as provided in the Constitution Order [Section 60 (2):1981]. There was also another school of thought that the delayed delivery of the appellate decisions may have influenced the decision not to exercise powers residing with him under the Constitution.

PRINCIPLE POSITIONS

A mutually agreed position was advanced to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) and had been formalized into “...an Injunctive Consent Order.” This was primarily done on “...Two principled Positions” and was to be legally binding upon contending litigants. One party had agreed to forego “...Injunctive Relief. The other agreed not to “...Seek Assent” that would allow for judicial hearings in two controversial issues. This had followed an earlier ruling by His Lordship Justice Brian Cottle” [ANUHCV: 2013/0405: October 18-December 4, 2013], allowing for changes to be made to some Constituencies Boundaries. Though there may have been legal hurdles, they may not have been insurmountable.Men without scruples have been known to have abandoned principles. When the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) had “...No Contract with the Antigua Power Company Limited (APCL),” it had in fact deviated from a “...binding business principle.” This was corrected by the Judicial Committee of the (London) Privy Council (JCPC)” [UKPC: No.oo63 or 2013].

EXPEDIENT AND NECESSARY

It was the experience that which may have been considered“...Expedient or Necessary,” but may not always be “...Convenient and/or Advantageous.” The important question is “...What if either party had decided to breach the Voluntary Consent Order?” This may have placed the Judiciary in an awkward position for two reasons; (i) ...Other than formalizing the agreements, the Court, on its own volition could not and had not “...Judicially Ordered” the Claimants to waive their right to Injunctive Relief; (ii) ...After the legislative process, the Court could not, and had not ordered Prime Minister Honourable Dr. Baldwin Spencer administration to neglect its Constitutional responsibilities in withholding the Report from the Governor General.” Yet there has to be a scapegoat. A clear hint of this might be discerned from the Prime Minister’s recent address “...The Court’s extra-ordinary and inexplicable delay will prevent any implementation of the proposed boundaries alterations approved by Parliament for this up-coming election” [Caribarena: April 25, 2014].

FRAMERS’ ANTICIPATION

Framers of the Constitution anticipated that circumstances may develop, and that if a Prime Minister inadvertently or by calculation, failed to exercise powers residing with him, after the first Sitting of Parliament, and following the elapse of “ ....five years of elective parliamentary tenure,” it shall automatically dissolve itself” [Section 60 (2)]. Alternately, a Governor General, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister, shall prorogued or so dissolved” [Section 60 (1)]. Failing which, “...it shall then stand dissolved” [CO: Section 60(2)]. Thus, some thirty three years ago, it was provisionalized in the nation’s Constitution Order 1981.” Many lessons, therefore, may have been learned.

TARDINESS

Without a shadow of doubt, “...Legislative and/or Administrative Tardiness” may have contributed to the fiasco that had developed within the Electoral Systems “...ABEC AND CBC.” These, no doubt, were compounded by “...significant and/or critical electoral issues,” that His Lordship Justice Brian Cottle may have unwittingly described as “...GROUSE” [Paragraph 4 of Judgment]. Notwithstanding, such was the language most lay persons understood “...gripe, grumble, moan, nag, complain.” Consequently, with “...High Court proceedings; ...Appeals; ...Itinerant Judicial shuttling to St. Kitts [April 14, 2014] and St. Lucia [April 19, 2014] by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC),” necessarily required “...Time for legal arguments; ...in depth research on the sensitive issues then at Bar, that informed judicial decisions may be made and that democratic principles might be respected and embraced and the institutions’ integrity may prevail.”

ADEQUATE TIME

Within the next several hours, “...Judicial History” will have been made.Citizens may view as Mysterious when the “...Judicial Ruling,” highly anticipated to be delivered before the dissolution of Parliament, will in fact be delivered by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) (Appellate body), in an Itinerant Sitting in one of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), British Virgin Island of Tortola on “...Monday April 28, 2014.” Since “...Time” has always been of the essence, those administrating public affairs shall be constantly mindful of “...mitigating and/or provocative factors” that may have guided public affairs with prudence. This may necessitate “...Strategic and/or Contingency Planning.” As a consequence, policy and/or decision-makers shall allow “...Adequate Time” for eventualities. This may have been understood from the Constituencies Boundaries Commission Guidance Act and the Constitution Order that states “...A Report by the Constituencies Boundaries Commission shall be submitted NOT less than TWO YEARS and no more than FIVE YEARS after the date when the last such report was submitted” [CO: Section 64 (2)].

BACKGROUND

The controversies may be seen from the background of “...policy-decisions; ...courses of action and measures considered and/or taken by “...Electoral Body and/or Constituencies Boundaries Commission.” Submitted to the Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Baldwin Spencer, the measures were subsequently accorded legislative attention, giving legitimacy to such measures. There were two contentious issues (i) “...Re-registration of Voters” that had made it through the hallowed Halls of Parliament, with Assent by Governor General, Her Excellency Dame Louise Lake-Tack to become applicable Electoral Law; and (ii) ... Constituencies Boundaries Changes” that had encountered legal challenges.

THE GUIDANCE ACT

The Constituencies Boundaries Commission Guidance Act provides administrative and operational guide to the Commissioners. For instance, it states “ ...In conducting its review, the Commission shall be guided by the ‘CARDINAL PRINCIPLES’ that Constituencies shall contain as nearly equal numbers of inhabitants, taking into account the need to achieve ‘VOTER’S PARITY’ as appear to the Commission as reasonably practicable” [Section 3: No. 10 of 2012]. Such subjective law was always fraught with difficulties and misgivings. It was the experience that when people, though endowed with reason and conscience “...Depart from established principles” to do that which they had considered “...Expedient and/or Necessary,” that had caused horror. Thus, a Law embodying such clause, was not only bad for principle, but could fuel contention and to the law abiding “...lengthy and costly legal fights.” 

DEPARTING FROM PRINCIPLES

However, it was the “...carefully and seemingly skillfully crafted proviso” that may have caused problems to some constituency and/or parliamentary representatives. That proviso states “...The Commission MAY DEPART from the principles to the extent that it considers ‘Expedient and Necessary’ to take into account the following factors; (a) ...The density of population and changing demographics; (b) ...The need to ensure adequate representation of sparsely populated areas; (c) ...The geographical feature of the constituency; and (d) ...The boundaries of various towns and villages, more particularly residential area expansion” [Section 3]. A Commission that was empowered to act on subjective “...Expediency and/or Necessity,” even members with noble intentions and neutrality, its actions were always going to be viewed with suspicion, thereby placing the “...especially hand-picked membership under public scrutiny.”

BALAAM MENTALITY

In the litigious proceedings, it shall be seen in the Judgment of His Lordship Justice Brian Cottle, the “...Constituencies Boundaries Act” wended its way to the Legislative Chambers in 2012 for enactment [No.10 of 2012]. Then appointments to the Commission only took place in February 2012 [ANUHCV 2013/0405: Paragraph 1]. Given these irrefutable facts, it might be “...disingenuous to lay blame squarely on the Judiciary.”  Do travelers who were “...given adequate Checking Time,” blame an Airline for departing ON TIME when they have arrived late?”That said, given the “...principled mutual agreement by consenting parties,” it may still boggle the mind that decisions were to be delivered after the constitutional dissolution of Parliament. There may be many learned intellectuals with “...Balaam’s Mentality.”

TALKING DONKEY

From time immemorial, man was known to be brutal and cruel, both to his fellowmen and beast. Even an innocent “...Jackass” understood what inhumane treatment was all about. The Scripture reveals that an unsuspecting “...Ass,” laden with cargo and man, walking along peacefully, was unnecessarily beaten. After an unprovoked whipping, it reportedly asked BALAAM “...What have I done to make you hit me three times” [Number 22: 28]. Luckily he did not have a sword.Though he may have spoken of the Devil, there was no evidence that the indomitable Health Minister Honourable Wilmoth Daniel had worshipped him.

PHYLOSOPHICAL APPROACH

It shall be seen that when “...Leadership Matters,” then leaders shall, rightly or wrongly, inter alia, “...prove their mettle by decisively taking decisions that shall either make the mountains tremble or raise the Devil.” It has been a “...Philosophical Approach” by Law enforcement leadership, that as “...circumstances dictate and/or situations demand,” that which was to be done, shall be judiciously and discretely done. Hence, acute consideration shall always be given to “...complex and sensitive issues, implications, repercussions and/or consequences.” Thus, without risk assessment, “...None may tread where angels fear.” None may beat up on the Judiciary as Balaam did to the innocent donkey.

NECROMANTIC EXPERIENCE

Apart from comments he may have made about a“...Necromantic experience at All Saints Cross Road,” the Devil had not revealed his name to any parliamentarian as associating himself with anyone called “...Gerry; ‘Maundering’ or Jimmy.” Moreover, the Devil had not implicated “...James Fuller of organizational treachery.” Nonetheless, it was felt that “ ...Devil’s Bridge,” may have been considered the best place for the Honourable Asot Michael to hide out from the ABCBC Commissioners, where he may have cried out“...What have I done to members of the ABCBC in placing my constituency with the Honourable Robin Yearwood?” Well, it was much closer to the prestigious Verandah Hotel.

PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY

Lest public confidence was undermined in the judiciary, judicial officers shall always be accorded exceptional measures respect, courtesy and dignified with comments and/or behaviors that were consistent with modern civilization, particularly in a “ ...Participatory Democracy.” The electoral system and processes not only allow for citizen’s participation, but was also seen as a fundamental tenet of democracy. Conversely, the “ ...Judiciary” was to be seen in the same light, since it helps to protect the “ ...Electoral System” and the rights of citizens to participate through those processes, legislative and/or otherwise, so long as a citizenry had viewed them as “...Fair, Equitable and Just.”

PRIVATE VIEWS OF JUSTICE

The Constitution Order 1981, implores every person, national or non-national to recognize and accept the Law as the public conscience. For instance, one of the founding principles states “...The people of Antigua and Barbuda recognize that the Law symbolizes the public conscience; ...that every citizen owes to it undivided allegiance not to be limited by any ‘PRIVATE VIEWS’ of justice or expediency and that the State is subject to the Law” [Paragraph (d)]. Those subscribing to the Oath of office, seemed to be peculiarly placed, and shall by virtue of their office, and at all material times shall have due regard to both the Constitution and the Law. The Oath states “...I Mervin Richards do swear that I will honour, uphold and preserve the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda and the Law.”

PARTICIPATION IN GOVERNMENT

Interestingly, Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides “...Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives” [UDHR 1948]. This was qualified by Constitutional provisions” [Sections 38 &39]. This has been all part of the nation’s democracy. Not infrequently, had elected and/or appointed public officers, seemingly out of “...Exuberance and/or Ignorance,” had injudiciously uttered rhetorical remarks that were clearly inconsistent with the noble intention of the framers, the spirit and/or letter of the Constitution.”

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

Research showed that events respecting Antigua and Barbuda’s history were as chaotic and dramatic as today’s “...Electoral System and/or processes.” History was recorded that when the first visit was made by Christopher Columbus [1493], there was “...jostling between the Spaniards and French for control.” Then there was British colonialization by Sir Thomas Warner [1632]; ...then it formally became a British colony [1667] with annexation of Barbuda [1628]. These events saw other occurrences – some incredible; ...some terrible and frighteningly horrible. For instance, research showed that a group of “...English colonists left St. Kitts to settle on Antigua and that Sir Christopher Codrington had “...established the first permanent settlement.” From then on Antigua and Barbuda’s history was said to

SLAVE TROUBLE

Sir Christopher Codrington was said to have “...settled at Betty’s Hope” [1674].With increased profitability in sugar cane; exploitative British plantation owners had reportedly “...imported Indian slaves to farm more sugar canes over tobacco. Research showed that they died by the “...thousands either through disease and/or malnutrition.” Still employing their exploitative skills, they had reportedly imported slaves from the African continent.” Encouraged by their adaptations to the new environment, physicality and endurance, an English plantation owner Brian Dyde reportedly imported more slaves, increasing the number from “...12, 500 in 1713 to 35, 000.” Likened to the currency of situations reportedly existed within the confines of Her Majesty’s Prison, “...inadequacy of accommodation” had resulted in “...overcrowding and conditions of wretchedness and institutional unrests” [Wikipedia: 1770’s]. Such conditions, irrespective of nations, were conducive only to the inevitable “...Slave Trouble.”

DEHUMANIZING CONDITIONS

Given their treatment and existing “...dehumanizing conditions,” plantation owners knew that they had invited “...Trouble.” Though neither understood each other’s language, the slave owners and/or masters understood their body language and actions. “...Unrests became increasingly common.” The British authorities, sensing that there may not only have been the killing of slaves with impunity, but also by the brutal and heinous methods that may have been used by their owners. They were equipped with the fire power for instant death, and they also had “...loyalist house and slave drivers, employing other strategies that may have brought about similar results, but more “...harrowingly painful and gruesome.” For instance, when it was learned that a slave freedom fighter, identified as “...Hercules” had conspired with others to kill a plantation owner named “...Nathaniel Crump and his family,” he was swiftly “...hanged; ...dragged and quartered (cut into four parts),” while three co-conspirators were reportedly “...burned to death” [Wikipedia]. These were said to be the most horrible punishment considered for visitation upon “...rebellious slaves and/or conspirators.”

SLAVE MENTALITY OR NAMES

No evidence of ancestral relations has been unearthed, linking ‘ABCBC’ Chairman“...Clarence Crump and/or Boundaries Commissioners James ‘Jimmy’ Fuller, James Sebastian and Clovis Ralph.” Hence, the Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Baldwin Spencer; ...Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, Honourable Gaston Browne and particularly, the Honourable Asot Michael, may not unduly apportioned blame to “...former Slave Owner Crump” for any “...Mentality- Slave; ...Plantation; ...Quartering” or those who may have connived under the name “...Gerry’ and have been suspected of behavior likened to a stream “...meandering gently or flowing with rapidity one way to the sea.” 

PAUL’S LAW

Though used in a different context, collectively, the Constituencies Boundaries Commissioners may have followed “...Paul’s Law” [PM Spencer]. Whatever that meant, it has been said that “...In order to gain freedom, it is necessary to break the Law.” This supports the view that the “...Tree of Liberty shall be watered by the blood of both the guilty and the innocent.” This may have been vividly demonstrated by the sacrifices of “...Hercules and Prince Klaas.” Conversely, Law breakers shall know that it also comes with consequences. Research provides no evidence, suggesting any relations to controversial members of the Antigua and Barbuda Constituencies Boundaries Commission (ABCBC).

PRINCE KLAAS EXPERIENCES

Slave history also revealed that “...Hercules” was not alone in his quest for freedom. Research show that a rebellious slave called “...Prince Klaas or King Court,” was put to death when he was accused of conspiratorial acts, “...planning to massacre white people.” Thus, applying the law of the jungle, he was “...promptly executed along with four fellow co-conspirators” [Wikipedia]. British authorities, seemingly fearing that its subjects may annihilate and may drastically reduce the slave population, enacted the “...Slave Act;” thereby making the “...Murder of Slaves unlawful” [Wikipedia: 1936]. This was said to have had very little effect, whether upon their lives or conditions under which they were forced to endure, be it in cramped dwellings or toiling on plantations, though not as intolerable and treacherous as today’s climatic conditions, yet under a merciless midday sun. Should freedom fighters “...Hercules and King Court” die in vain for “...ancestral children” [Alister Thomas].

CONCLUSION

At 9 am Monday, April 28, 2014, three eminent Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) Justices will hand down “...Two important Electoral Decisions” in the British Virgin Island High Court that may impact the electoral processes. As it affects “...Constituencies Boundaries Changes,” the automatic dissolution of Parliament, though it may provoke heated discussions among the citizenry, it may still be a non-issue for administrators preparing for general elections, due this year. Due to the constitutional provisions, that shall have been followed. The Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Baldwin Spencer had already conceded “...non-implementation.” As it affects the “...Re-registration of Voters,” even with the “...noble intention” of preparing up-to-date “...Electoral Lists,” the Justices may have looked closely at “...disenfranchisement of voters” and voter parity and to give acute considerations to its authenticity in reflecting the currency of eligible voters within the respective constituencies.” Time marches on. Irrespective of status and/or position, “...It waits for no man.”

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