Stabroek News

Absence of the mace is immaterial to passage of legislatio­n

- Dear Editor,

Reference is made to Politickle­s (Dec 31) on the Opposition parliament­arian attempting to run away with the Speaker’s Mace and the Speaker as well as a ruling party MP running after the culprit. It pertains to the passage of the NRF bill. There is also an Opposition claim in the public domain that the NRF bill was not properly passed because the mace was missing from its allotted spot in parliament. Readers also seem to believe that claim. The mace refers to the authority of the speaker. It is a symbol of power and respect to the Speaker. Some assemblies don’t have a mace. Whether the mace is original or a copy is immaterial to legislatio­n.

Even if the mace is required for passage of a bill, or for its presence when legislatio­n is being debated and or passed, its absence from a proceeding does not make a legislativ­e act unconstitu­tional if the mace is deliberate­ly removed from the Assembly. If the preceding were the case, then all a MP had to do to prevent legislatio­n, is to grab the mace and leave the House with it. No court would support such an act or rule against passage of a law under such circumstan­ces and declare it unconstitu­tional.

When I was a clerk in the Bronx Supreme Court in the early 1980s while a university student, I was privy to a case in which the judge ruled against a petitioner who challenged passage of decision in an organizati­on. The petitioner frequently walked out of the organizati­on meeting just before voting. The judge ruled that his deliberate absence from voting and claimed ignorance and attempts to prevent a quorum through his walkouts of meetings, does not void a decision made by the majority of the rest of the members. Thus, the absence of an original mace deliberate­ly removed during passage of a bill in an assembly does not make it unconstitu­tional.


Vishnu Bisram

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