by Linda Straker
- Emergency Powers Act clearly is guiding legal framework for the entire Cabinet of Ministers
- Emergency Powers Act was approved in 1987
- Grenada still under limited State of Emergency
Within most pieces of legislation approved by the Houses of Parliament in Grenada and all Commonwealth states, is a clause which mandates for the minister under whose portfolio the law will fall to make regulations. “The Minister shall or may make Regulations for the purposes of giving effect to the provisions of this Act” is usually the final clause.
It appears that many “advocates for change” are not aware of this clause in law and have thus found themselves accusing the cabinet of making laws with the weekly repealing of the Covid-19 regulations which is mandatory under the Emergency Powers Act.
As of mid-March, Grenada began functioning under a limited State of Emergency because of the global health pandemic Covid-19. Many states around the world took similar measures so Grenada was not the only one, nor the first one.
Because the island continues to be in this limited state of emergency, the Emergency Powers Act clearly is the guiding legal framework for cabinet and for those of you who are questioning the weekly pronouncement by the cabinet, you need to take some time and acquaint yourself with that piece of legislation.
That legislation does not provide for just one minister to be responsible for the regulation, but the entire Cabinet of Ministers. Therefore, some of the utterings in public via radio call-in programmes, truly show up the lack of knowledge of national legislations by some who think that the weekly repealing of the emergency powers regulation should be approved by weekly sittings of both Houses of Parliament.
The Emergency Powers Act which was approved in 1987 when the late Herbert Blaize was Prime Minister and Dr Francis Alexis was Attorney General, will show you that you are wrong, and your attempt to correct a wrong makes you very wrong.
Section 4 of the legislation is sub-titled ‘Emergency Power of Cabinet’, and as a public service here are the powers of the Cabinet in that piece of legislation.
(1) The Cabinet may during the period of emergency in the State-
a. make regulations for the purpose of controlling and regulating-
- all means of communications and transport;
- all fuel, buildings, plants and materials necessary to the working of the same;
- all food and liquor supplies, and necessaries;
- all electric, water and other power stations.
b. Make regulations-
- to prohibit or restrict the possession or use by any person or body of persons of any specified article;
- to impose on any person any restrictions in respect of his employment or business, in respect of his place of residence and in respect of his association or communication with other persons;
- to prohibit any person from being out of doors between such hours as may be specified except under the authority of a written permit granted by such authority or person as may be specified;
- to require any person to notify his movements in such manner at such times and to such authority or person as may be specified;
- to prohibit any person from travelling except in accordance with permission given to him by such authority or person as may be specified:
- to require any person to quit any place or area or not to visit any place or area;
- to provide for the detention of persons and deportation and exclusion of persons from the State;
- to authorise the search of persons or the entering and search of any premises and the seizure of anything, and its detention for so long as may be necessary for the purpose of any examinations, investigations, trials or inquiries:
- to authorise on behalf of Her Majesty;
(i) the taking of possession or control or the managing or carrying on, as the case may be, of any property or undertaking:
(ii) the acquisition of any property other than land;
c. make regulations authorising such other measures as Cabinet may deem reasonably justifiable for dealing with the situation that exists in the State during that period of emergency; Provided that nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorise the making of any regulations imposing any form of compulsory military service or industrial conscription, or providing for the trial of persons by military court: Provided also that no such regulations shall alter any existing procedure in criminal cases, or confer any right as to punish by fine or imprisonment without trial.
(2) The regulation so made shall have effect as if enacted in this Act.
It is well understood in law that MAY and SHALL has different meanings. Shall is a command and therefore whatever follows “shall” is mandatory while on the other hand “may” is discretionary. What comes after “may” is at the discretion of the person making the decision.
And so now I urge you to go re-read sub-section 2, which for ease of access, is the penultimate paragraph above.
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