April 27, 2018

Any voter can challenge eligibility of representative to sit in House – Constitution


ANYONE WISHING to challenge a representative’s eligibilty to sit in the House of Assembly may take the member of Parliament to court.

The Constitution of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), Section 36(2) (Determination of questions of membership) states that “an application to the High Court for the determination of any question under subsection (1) (a) of this section may be made by any person entitled to vote in the election to which the application relates or by any person who was a candidate at the election or by the Attorney General.”

Section 36 (1) (a) says, “The High Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine any question whether – (a) any person has been validly elected as a representative.”

The Constitution also speaks to the penalties that can be imposed on a person who has been found to be in Parliament unlawfully.

Section 42 (1) says, “Any person who sits or votes in the House knowing or having reasonable grounds for knowing that he is not entitled to do so shall be guilty of an offence, and liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars, or such sum as may be prescribed by Parliament, for each day on which he sits or votes in the House.”

Section 42 (2) says, “any prosecution for an offence under this section shall be instituted in the High Court and shall not be so instituted except by the Director of Public Prosecutions.”

The Representation of the People Act, 1982, also speaks to the qualifications for a person to sit in Parliament. Part Five, Qualification of Members ,35 (1) says, “no person shall be qualified to be elected or appointed as a representative or senator if he (a) is by virtue of his own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power of state.”

The penalty for acting as a member without having been elected or returned is pointed out in Section 64 (1) stating, “Any person who has not been elected or returned in accordance with the provisions of this Act comes into the House of Assembly claiming to be a member of the House or having entered, acts as a member of that House, is guilty of an offence and is liable to a fine of $750.”