Vila Times

Former MP Shadrack’s appeal dismissed

Former MP Shadrack’s appeal dismissed
Former MP Shadrack’s appeal dismissed
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The Court of Appeal has dismissed former Malekula MP Gracia Shadrak’s appeal regarding the vacation of his seat declared by the Speaker of Parliament on 27 November 2019.
The appellant has filed a Constitutional Application alleging breaches of his constitutional rights under articles 5 (1)(d), 17(1) and 22 of the Constitution. It was an appeal against the dismissal of that Constitutional Application.
The appellant was an elected Member of Parliament for the Malekula Constituency. He also held the position of Second Deputy Speaker.
On 25 November 2019, the Speaker of Parliament Simeon Seule summoned Parliament to meet in its 2019 Second Extraordinary Session commencing on Monday 25 November 2019 at 8.30am. When the roll was called, the appellant was absent. Again on 26 November, when the Parliament commenced its sitting at 8.30am, the appellant was absent when the roll was called until 5.00pm when it adjourned. The next sitting commenced at 5.15pm on 26 November until 8.00pm. The appellant was also absent from this sitting. At 10am on Wednesday 27 November, the Speaker of Parliament received the appellant’s letter attaching a medical certificate obtained on 25 November 2019 for three days sick leave. After consulting the Clerk of Parliament and checking the rolls of Parliament, it was confirmed the appellant had absented himself from three consecutive sitting of Parliament without the permission of the Speaker. The Speaker noted that the appellant’s letter was a notification and was not seeking permission to be absent or to remain absent from sittings of Parliament.
When Parliament resumed at 2.00pm on 27 November 2019, a motion was made for the Speaker to declare the appellant’s seat in Parliament vacant. The Speaker duly declared the appellant’s seat vacant pursuant to s. 2(d) of the Act.
The appellant filed a Constitutional Application alleging breaches of his constitutional rights under articles 5(1)(d), 17(1) and 22 of the Constitution. The primary Judge granted a stay of the Speaker’s declaration pending the final determination of the proceeding.
On 6 December 2019, the primary Judge issued his written decision. He found from the evidence that the appellant had never sought permission from the Speaker to be absent from the sittings on 25, 26 and 27 November 2019. He held that the appellant had clearly failed to obtain the Speaker’s permission. The primary Judge also found that the appellant had not even notified the Speaker of his absence. He held that despite the appellant’s best efforts, his medical certificate was delivered to the wrong person instead of to the Speaker. It was delivered to Parliament’s Finance Manager on 25 November 2019. On 26 November 2019, the appellant himself attended at Parliament, obtained a copy of the medical certificate from the Finance Manager, had his cover letter typed up but back-dated to 25 November 2019 and left it with a librarian with no instructions as to when and to whom it should be delivered. The letter was ultimately delivered to the Speaker on the morning of 27 November 2019. The primary Judge found that the Speaker was not informed and was not aware of the appellant’s illness or medical certificate until 27 November 2019. That was a day after the appellant had already absented himself from three consecutive sittings of Parliament.
The primary Judge also found that the Speaker had lawfully declared the appellant’s seat vacant. (Photo: G. Ligo/DP)


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