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Lawyers: Enough evidence to trigger impeachment of CJ

Published: 
Friday, August 17, 2018

Senior attorneys are suggesting that there is enough evidence for Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to trigger impeachment proceedings for Chief Justice Ivor Archie even before the Law Association completes its review of a report into the matter.

They made their comments in response to yesterday’s judgment from the Privy Council, which cleared the way for the association to resume and complete its investigation.

The association’s investigation deals with whether the allegations against Archie are sufficient for it to recommend that Rowley institute the impeachment proceedings under Section 137 of the Constitution. After the investigation is completed, the association will meet with its members at a Special General Meeting, to decide whether to forward the complaints against Archie to Rowley.

In responses issued yesterday, attorneys Israel Khan, SC, and Kelvin Ramkissoon both noted that in the judgment, the five Law Lords stated that the Court of Appeal had found that the allegations “had such a negative impact on the Office of the Chief Justice and the Judiciary that they threatened to undermine the administration of justice and rule of law”.

Khan said: “And it is my considered opinion that that is sufficient for the honourable Prime Minister to recommend to the President under section 137 to set up a commission to determine whether to substantiate if these allegations are true.”

Ramkisson expressed similar sentiments.

“The fact that the Privy Council ruled on the propriety of the Law Association’s investigation and process on the basis of sworn evidence before it (affidavits) is sufficient to conclude that the allegations have passed the seriousness test and are not based on frivolity,” Ramkissoon said, as he suggested that Rowley could operate independently of the association.

“He (Rowley) owes a duty to the administration of justice to do so. It allows the Chief Justice the full spectrum of natural justice and the allegations to be proved or disproved,” he added.

Speaking on television station CNC3’s Morning Brew programme before the judgment was delivered yesterday, Senior Counsel Avory Sinanan suggested that the association was duty bound to probe the allegations.

“Had the Law Association not embarked on this examination, a criticism could have been levelled at them, that they were in dereliction of duty,” Sinanan said, as he noted that the association has a duty to promote democracy and the development of justice.

However, he noted that the investigation may result in Archie being cleared of any wrongdoing.

“It may very well be that when they conclude their investigation, the Chief Justice is exonerated. All these allegations which had been bandied about in the press, and you know the press tends to sensationalise things sometimes, could be shown to be untrue or unmerited,” Sinanan said.

Although he described the Judiciary as battle-scarred, Sinanan still expressed hope that it may salvage its reputation.

“I think there are committed male and female judicial officers who see their role as dispensing justice and helping to build the democracy,” Sinanan said.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar also gave credit to the Law Association’s victory yesterday and maintained Section 137 of the Constitution - regarding the process towards impeachment - should be triggered.

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