I write to commend the judiciary for accepting jurisdiction in the Karen Nunez-Tesheira legal matter — application for an injunction to postpone the internal executive election. Jurisdiction was not an issue in the application. However, lawyers, some senior ones, and activists of both the PNM and UNC, I spoke with when the matter was filed with the court were of the view that the court had/has no jurisdiction in internal party matters. I heard similar views when internal elections were held in another party in which the election contained fraud. The lawyers and activists felt the matter would be thrown out. I was and still am of the opposite view; the court has jurisdiction in and over all registered entities in a democratic country.
A political party is a public entity; it is not a private organization and thus is subjected to the jurisdiction of the court. Thus, the court can interpret its constitution and regulate the workings of a party to ensure rights of its members are not violated and that people are not denied membership.
The court has the power to interpret the constitution and by-laws of any public entity. At least, it is so in the USA and white countries that respect democratic principles. The court should and must ensure that the principle of one person one vote be enforced in all parties and that no candidate has an unfair advantage over another for any position. All candidate must have equal access to all information including membership list and contacts. Anything short is unfair and a fraud. If there is skullduggery in membership drives and or in accessing membership list and or in balloting in any party, the aggrieved should turn to the court for justice and fair play. The court will be fair.
In the USA, in my studies on American constitutional law, initially political parties vehemently opposed court intervention in their operations claiming the judiciary has not jurisdiction in their internal affairs which they claimed to be private. The court disagreed and ruled that it had and still has jurisdiction to interpret and enforce internal constitution and rules of operation of parties and all public organizations and businesses. Elections to choose District Leaders and all nominees for positions in the USA are free and fair. Candidates are empowered to approach and historically sought redress in the court if they feel (felt) party rights are (were) violated. The same principles and individual rights apply in any democracy including Trinidad and Tobago. Thank you judiciary for accepting jurisdiction and dealing with the Tesheira matter expeditiously.
Vishnu Bisram (PhD)