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Sabbatical issue enough to trigger Section 137

Friday, March 9, 2018

Two senior counsels are hoping the six-month sabbatical applied for by Chief Justice Ivor Archie and approved by President Anthony Carmona will prompt the Prime Minister to trigger section 137 of the Constitution to set up a tribunal to investigate the CJ.

Senior Counsels Martin Daly and Israel Khan joined the growing list of members of the judiciary who have condemned the sabbatical leave granted to the CJ from this Sunday to mid-August.

Daly said “pretty much at the moment it looks like he granted himself leave and the President rubber stamped, himself granting himself leave by some authority that we are not clear about.”

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has written to Carmona seeking answers under which authority the leave was granted.

Daly said the granting of sabbatical leave had only reached the stage of agreement in principle.

“It had not been operationalised, so where is it laid down that the person who granted this sabbatical is the President?” he asked

Details of the approval for the sabbatical came on the same day High Court Judge Nadia Kangaloo ruled in favour of the CJ in a matter against the Law Association, which had been investigating allegations in the public domain against the CJ.

Daly said, “This man is fleeing his troubles with a fig leaf of approval of a sabbatical, a policy for which does not exist. That is how it appears at the moment.”

He said it appeared there had been “some panchayat between the President and the Chief Justice to arrange an exit from all of his troubles, but to make it look good, to make it look as if he was going to do something noble and helpful, but that is not going to help anybody, especially when the President of the Industrial Court say you see my name in those documents, I did not authorise that.”

On Wednesday, Industrial Court president Deborah Thomas-Felix told the T&T Guardian that while the CJ had expressed an interest in going on a sabbatical in November last year there was no follow up conversation on the issue. She denied claims made in the CJ’s application for leave to the President that she was either a supervisor or collaborator to his research.

Declaring that “the whole thing stinks to high heaven” yesterday, Daly said “the judiciary is certainly bleeding to death now.”

While in the past the Government had adopted the wall of China position and had “blindly” taken the position that no threshold of 137 had been crossed, Daly said “now they discovering there was a lot going on.”

Speaking on the Morning Brew on CNC3 yesterday, Daly said while he was “sorry” the Government had been “blind-sided by this sabbatical arrangement,” it was his view that “they had quite wrongly washed their hands off this a long time ago.”

But he said given the development of the sabbatical, which has been questioned in almost every quarter, including judges and the Prime Minister, “they should take another look at the matters that have been raised in the public domain last year,” and now with the development of the sabbatical “and see whether the threshold for 137 had been crossed.”

Daly said the judiciary had been “wholly undermined by all of this, I am very clear that the Chief Justice should pack up and go.”


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