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Injunction remains as parties await judge's decision

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Justice Darshan Ramdhani has reserved judgment on the application to strike out an injunction to prohibit the governor general from signing off on a proclamation effecting constituency boundaries changes.  Justice Ramdhani said he would need a couple weeks to give his decision, which means in the meantime, the conservatory order prohibiting the governing general remains in effect for that duration.

The High Court on Friday heard arguments from both the respondents and the claimants on whether to strike out the injunction or to grant leave for judicial review of the procedures used in preparing the boundaries changes recommendations. The court session ended late Friday evening; just about 6:05pm. 

Anthony Astaphan, lead counsel representing Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas, one of the respondents in this matter, told WINN FM news after Friday’s hearing that he believes enough was presented to the court to show that leave should not be granted to the claimants for judicial review.  “You heard the judge said he is going to need time to deliver his judgment and that the order he made earlier on will stay enforced for the next 14 days,” Astaphan said. “That will give us the opportunity ….to come back to the court and if necessary, if something arises that requires further intervention of the court, we will come back,” Astaphan said.

He said if the judge rules that the conservatory order is to be discharged, then it’s the end of the matter. “If leave is granted however, the judge may issue another conservatory order. But I tend to doubt he will. I suspect he is going to have to try to attempt to craft another order…I think we said quite a bit today to show the court that we do not believe that leave should be granted,” Astaphan explained.    

The basis of the respondents’ arguments is that the opposition had enough time to object to recommendations of the report before it was presented in parliament and as such the injunction should be struck out. “You can’t have information well in advance of the date of the sitting of the House (of Assembly), sit on it and then when you believe that the report is going to the parliament with the prime minister that you rush to the court and claim that you didn’t know what was going on,” Astaphan said.

Meanwhile, Leader of the People’s Labour Party Dr. Timothy Harris, one of the claimants who filed the injunction, was satisfied with the day’s proceedings and the arguments put forward by their representative lead counsel Douglas Mendez S.C. “We believe that the arguments were convincing, at least for me as a lay person and we await for the judge to give due consideration to the matters that have been put before (the court),” he said. He was pleased that the conservatory order pertaining to the injunction remains. “We are happy that the injunction stays and so the status quo remains until the judge makes a further order,” he said.

Other lead counsels representing the respondents are Mr. Ransford Braham representing the Governor General and Roger Forde representing the Constituency Boundaries Commission and the Attorney General. The court injunction barring the Governor General from acting on the boundaries changes was filed by four Members of the Opposition: Mark Brantley, Shawn Richards, Timothy Harris and Eugene Hamilton on September 9th.   Within days (September 13th) the Attorney General’s Chambers filed a Notice of Application to have it discharged.  Parliament on September 9th passed a resolution stipulating boundary changes based on the constituencies boundaries report. The opposition was absent from that parliamentary session.

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