Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal is questioning the legality of Friday's Privileges Committee tribunal, noting two of its members were key players in the alleged infraction that landed him there.
Moonilal was referred to the committee after a heated exchange during the Standing Finance Committee stage of the Budget debate in Parliament last month. In the cross-talk, Moonilal seemed to tell Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds "dat is why snake have lead for you."
Hinds felt threatened by that comment and MP for Arouca/Maloney Camille Robinson-Regis moved a motion to have him referred to the committee. After House Speaker Bridgid Annisette-Geroge agreed a strong case had been made, Moonilal was referred to the committee on November 2, 2018.
Both Robinson-Regis and Hinds sit on the Privileges Committee. However, Hinds on Thursday confirmed he will recuse himself from that sitting.
Robinson-Regis on Thursday said Annisette-George and Port-of-Spain North/St Ann's West, Stuart Young would remain on the committee and Hinds would be replaced. The committee is supposed to include two of Moonilal's colleagues but only Dr Suruj Rambachan has been named so far.
Guardian Media asked Robinson-Regis if, as the mover of the motion, she too would recuse herself but she did not respond.
Moonilal told Guardian Media that based on the inherent bias of the composition of the Privileges Committee, he would legally challenge any determination it makes.
Chief among Moonilal's concerns is the fact that the main players in his referral to the committee are the same people meting out a determination on whether he crossed the civil line during the debate.
"Any participation by this member in this process will vitiate the proceedings of the committee and render its decision unlawful," Moonilal said in relation to Robinson-Regis' participation.
He said as Robinson-Regis was the mover of the motion, it should be clear to any "fair-minded and informed observer" that she would have determined the motion had merit. He said her would inevitably lead to the conclusion that she was "prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner."
Moonilal had also complained about Hinds' participation before he told Guardian Media Thursday evening that he will recuse himself.
Moonilal said he also spoke to his lawyers to determine whether being sent to the Privileges Committee was an abuse of power.
On the day of the crosstalk, Annisette-George directed both Moonilal and Hinds to leave the debate. She said then that the debate should "move on."
Moonilal believes this statement by Annisette-George demonstrated that she deliberated and sanctioned him on the matter already.
"This was the sanction that was considered appropriate by the Speaker. In those circumstances, it would be an abuse of process and a breach of the protection of the law and due process guarantee for me to now be subjected to and placed in jeopardy a second time for the same alleged wrongdoing," he said.
Moonilal's legal team is expected to present a letter detailing his concerns to the Privileges Committee before it meets with Moonilal Friday.
- by Renuka Singh