Parliamentary Mace “nothing more than a relic” – High Court Judge as case challenging oil fund law thrown out

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Guyana High Court Judge Navindra Singh on June 19 dismissed the case challenging the legality of the country’s oil fund law. 

The case, filed by opposition Chief Whip Christopher Jones and Trade Unionist Norris Witter, stood on the claim that the Natural Resource Fund bill was not legally passed for several reasons, including the fact that a symbolic parliamentary mace was not in its right position. 

Justice Singh dismissed the argument and deemed the mace “nothing more than a relic intended only to be a symbolic existence in the National Assembly.” 

“The presence of the mace in the National Assembly is not mandated by the Constitution or the Laws of Guyana and therefore its absence cannot result in the passage of the Bill being unconstitutional or unlawful,” the High Court Judge said in his written ruling. 

All of the orders sought by the applicants have been dismissed. 

Chaos broke out in Guyana’s National Assembly back on December 21, when the government attempted to have the NRF bill read, debated and voted on. 

Several opposition MPs disrupted the proceedings after demanding that the bill be sent to a special select committee instead of being debated. With chants of “no thieving bill must pass” the opposition MPs converged on the House floor and attempted to disrupt the Speaker of the House, Manzoor Nadir by stealing his mace.

Videos posted to social media showed a Parliament staff member on the ground clutching the mace in an effort to secure it, while an opposition MP hurled racial slurs at the employee.

Government MPs were forced to form a human barricade around the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh as he put forward his case in support of the bill, which was ultimately passed.

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