The Constitutional Court began hearing submissions in the People’s National Party’s lawsuit against the government’s decision to extend the tenure of the Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP and the Auditor General on Monday.
The claimants are Leader of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives Phillip Paulwell and Senator Peter Bunting.
The constitutional amendment raising the retirement age of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Auditor General from 60 to 65 years was passed in July this year.
But the claimants are challenging the amendment as being in furtherance of an improper use, making it null and void.
Robian Williams was in court today.
The claimants are represented by King’s Counsel Michael Hylton, Attorneys Kevin Powell, Duane Allen and Timera Mason.
In making his submissions, KC Hylton noted that there’s a general proper purpose principle when it comes on to the powers of parliamentarians.
He pointed out that the claimants have no issue with the extension of the age of retirement, the issue is with the use of the constitutional amendment process.
The amendment was tabled and passed in the House of Representatives on July 25.
The bill went to the Senate on July 28 and was also passed.
It then received the assent of the Governor General and was gazetted the following week.
KC Hylton submitted that there was no explanation credible or otherwise for the extension of the tenure of the incumbent DPP.
He argued that the opposition members weren’t aware of the contents of the bill being amended prior to its tabling.
Furthermore, KC Hylton said the amended act affects an entrenched provision.
He said the amendment which extends the tenure of the incumbent DPP to a third term may permit a fourth term if a request was to be made.
KC Hylton added that consultation with the opposition was necessary and by not undertaking that process the government circumvented the constitution.
The claimants argue that the amendment enacted was in breach of the separation of powers principle and is therefore inconsistent with the Constitution making it null and void.
The matter is being presided over by Justices Sonya Wint Blair, Simone Wolfe Reece and Tricia Hutchinson Shelly.
Representing the Attorney General are King’s Counsel Allan Wood, King’s Counsel Ransford Braham, Neco Pagon and Catherine Williams
KC Wood will start making his submissions when the matter resumes on Tuesday morning at 10.