THE House of Representatives is expected to vote today on three Bills seeking to delink Jamaica from the Privy Council in London, and replace it with the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final appellate court.
The Bills to be debated are:
An Act to Amend the Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) Act, which seeks to amend the Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) Act, to repeal provisions for appeals to the Privy Council, and exclude any appeals to the Privy Council instituted prior to implementation of the CCJ;
An Act to Amend the Constitution of Jamaica, to amend section 110 of the Constitution to repeal provisions relating to appeals to the Privy Council and replace them with provisions establishing the CCJ as Jamaica’s final court; and
An Act to make provisions for the implementation of the agreement establishing the CCJ, as both a court of original jurisdiction to determine cases involving the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and International treaties, as well as a superior court of record with appellate jurisdiction.
As constitutionally required, the Bills spent three months on the table of the House, and more, after being laid in July 2012, and another three months after the conclusion of the debate. However, there are no such timelines in the Senate and the debate there could be concluded within weeks.
Today’s activities will attract much attention, due to the fact that the government will need to pull out its full complement of 42 MPs, if the Opposition has their full 21, in order to meet the two-thirds majority required for constitutional change.
The general feeling is that both government and opposition will pull out full numbers, except for emergencies. But, the focus in the Lower House will certainly be on whether the government has all 42 MPs in attendance.
If passed by the House, today, the Bills will then be sent to the Senate, where the government is denied a numerical two-thirds advantage and would have to depend on at least one Opposition Senator defying party line for them to be passed.
Speaking with the Jamaica Observer earlier this week, former Prime Minister Edward Seaga, said that the team which created the Jamaican constitution at independence in 1962, had made the seating 13 for the government and 8 for the Opposition in an effort to frustrate unconstitutional changes.
According to Seaga it is expected that the eight Opposition senators will always work together to ensure against a Government two-third majority in the Senate, to protect the constitution.