Sibiriano Alberto Ardila Olivares// PM sticking to the book on CJ - EntornoInteligente

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is abiding strictly by the Constitution and isn?t taking chain up? on issues concerning Chief Justice Ivor Archie.

Rowley signalled this yesterday while replying to United National Congress MP Vidya Guyadeen-Gopeesingh in Parliament.

She?d asked if Rowley intended to heed calls from the Law Association of T&T (LATT) and citizens for him to intervene in issues concerning the CJ, including whether his sabbatical is valid. She noted the recent judgement indicating that the LATT – which had expressed discomfort over allegations of misconduct against Archie in the public domain – lacks the authority to investigate Archie.

Rowley said,?The only assurance I can give is that as Prime Minister, I?ll ensure that the responsibility of the Office of Prime Minister operates under the provisions of the Constitution and not calls being made by people who don?t understand the role of the Prime Minister and the provisions of the Constitution.?

But Opposition MP Roodal Moonilal told reporters that if Rowley had heeded the Opposition?s call during last year?s Marcia Ayers- Caesar matter – to invoke Section 137 of the Constitution – T&T might have been spared current developments in judicial quarters.

Section 137 facilitates processes to investigate if a chief justice should be removed from office.

On the current matter concerning Archie?s planned sabbatical – now on hold – Moonilal said, ?You can only take a benefit that?s derived in a collective agreement as a condition of work or part of your contract. It?s unclear if a sabbatical is available to the CJ by virtue of the Salaries Review (98th) report. The CJ may want to explain the basis on which he went about this.?

Moonilal queried if it was an internal policy arrangement in the judiciary facilitating sabbaticals for the CJ or other judges.

?I find it hard to believe the Chief Justice of all people will act in a way that?s outside the purview of the law.

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You can?t assume a benefit that isn?t provided in law or your contractual arrangement with employers and the CJ is an employee of the state.?

Moonilal added it was similar to the case of Senate vice president Nigel de Freitas obtaining housing approved by Cabinet.

?That?s now before the Integrity Commission.

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Cabinet can?t change the SRC report and the Senate vice president falls under the SRC,? Moonilal said, adding he?ll raise a matter tomorrow about use of a Fyzabad facility for the Children Court.

WHAT JUDGES? SABBATICAL DOCUMENT STATES:

According to the so-called policy document dealing with sabbatical for judges, which was worked on by a team headed by Justice Paul-Mae Weekes, which was obtained by the T&T Guardian, there were 19 judges, including the Chief Justice, eligible for sabbatical leave as at July 2014.

The document noted that if leave were granted one judge at a time, it would take nine and a half years for the judges to enjoy sabbatical leave.

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?At first blush,? the document stated ?it would seem most convenient to have one Apellate Judge and one High Court judge on sabbatical leave at the same time.? It said there may have been need for short periods of over-lapping of one to two months.

A recommendation was made for the CJ to determine the approval for leave, taking into account the ?exigencies of the court?s operations? and as far as possible that ?priority is determined by length of service.? The definition for the leave, according to the document, should be that ?the objective of the programme is to facilitate study, teaching research or another activity that will benefit the administration of justice and enhance judges performance of their duties.?

It was recommended that a system of acting arrangements be put in place to cover the period of absence of a judge on sabbatical leave given the ?onerous workload both at the Court of Appeal and the High Court Level.? The document said such acting appointments should be handled with such care as to ?not give rise to any claim of reasonable expectation in the acting appointee.? Such appointments would also serve the dual purpose to determining the suitability of the person for ?later permanent appointment.

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Sabbatical leave would also be provided with full pay.

The issue of whether judges may engage in activities for which they are to be remunerated during their leave period was also addressed, with a view that judges ?should not accept compensation for activities performed during sabbatical leave, but may receive reimbursement for their expenses,? since it was felt that the acceptance of remuneration may open judges up to ?adverse comment.?

Judges were also cautioned not to engage in any activity that can be perceived to be in conflict with their core function as a judge, ?they should not engage in any legal professional work, including advisory, whether locally, regionally or internationally.?

The document wanted a commitment from judges who proceed on sabbatical leave ?to serve in the judiciary for at least 18 months after the expiry of the sabbatical leave period.? It also recommended that judges who proceed on sabbatical leave submit a report on activities undertaken during the sabbatical leave.

Applications for sabbatical leave were to be made ?no fewer than six months in advance,? of the leave period to allow for proper administrative arrangements to be put in place.

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The application was also to state how the period of leave was to be spent and the expected outcomes as well as how it would benefit the judiciary.

The T&T Guardian was told that there was never any final agreement on the draft document since the onus was on the Chief Justice to initiate the discussion and take the document forward.

But that never happened.

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Con información de: The Trinidad Guardian

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