Leader of the Opposition Allen Chastanet and Speaker of the House Claudius Francis, will be squaring off in court again today. This time, Chastanet is suing Francis for what he claims to be a violation of his civil and human rights due to the parliamentary procedure employed by the House Speaker during the last explosive sitting.
According to an affidavit filed before the courts, Chastanet is seeking a formal declaration that the actions taken by the Speaker to suspend him for an indefinite period, were unconstitutional. Chastanet also argues unlawful arrest on the basis that the Speaker had no power to order his detention when Chastanet attempted to leave the House voluntarily. Attorney General, Leslie Mondesir, has also been named in the suit and is being sued in his capacity as legal advisor to the government of St Lucia.
According to legal documents filed by Chastanet, the Leader of the Opposition is seeking an injunction, to restrain the Speaker from excluding or otherwise preventing Chastanet from attending any sitting of the House. It adds that the suspension was not effected in accordance with the provisions of standing order 43 and was illegal, unlawful, null and void and of no effect.
This is the second time a dispute between Francis and Chastanet has reached the courts. The first involved the Privileges Committee matter where the high court delivered a consent order which indicated that Claudius Francis in his capacity as chairman of the privileges committee had no locus standi to refer the matter before the privileges committee. The judgment also included relief for Chastanet to the tune of $75,000 in costs and an undisclosed amount in damages.
Observers to this new round of court proceedings are of the view that the outcome of the trial will have groundbreaking implications.
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