The PPP/Civic administration views with deep concern the recent proclivity of the joint opposition, both in and out of Parliament, to make statements that, expressly and by implication, constitute an attack on the integrity and independence of the judiciary. Further, it is the view of the administration, that these statements by their express language and tenor are designed to pit the executive against the judiciary. Frequent references are made to the government’s resort to the judiciary for redress against flagrant violations of the constitution by the joint opposition in the National Assembly. The government’s exercise of this democratic right and constitutional freedom is, irrationally, viewed by the opposition as an attempt by the administration to wage “war” against the legislature.
The latest statement issued by the Alliance For Change published on December 18, 2012, must be viewed against this politically inspired backdrop. This statement, in effect, blames the administration for the non-appointment of office holders to the positions of Chancellor and Chief Justice, respectively. The statement further insinuates that the government is deliberately perpetuating such state of affairs in order to derive, presumably, favourable rulings from these office holders. Its falsity apart, this insipid insinuation constitutes a most callous assault on the integrity and reputation of two distinguished jurists of this land who have served their country with distinction.
Additionally, the AFC, whose leadership consists of several lawyers, fully well knows that the persons who are acting in those two offices are, substantively, the Chief Justice of the country and a Justice of Appeal and therefore they currently enjoy the most impregnable security of tenure that the constitution offers by virtue of those substantive appointments.
Significantly, the makers of this statement, either by design or because of unfamiliarity with the issue, omit to acknowledge the documented efforts of both former President Bharrat Jagdeo and President Donald Ramotar to secure the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition, as is constitutionally required, to fill these vacancies. Unfortunately, these efforts were futile. The administration remains hopeful that an agreement can be realized earliest. In fact, the administration urges the AFC to focus their attention on encouraging the Leader of the Opposition to respond to the President‘s overtures to fill these vacancies.
The AFC’s contentions are, therefore, characteristically devoid of any merit.
The administration further regards as an outrage, the bizarre allegation of the AFC that it has declared “war” against the legislature. Ours is a position which is founded in principle. The administration will challenge all or any violations of the constitution or onslaught on the rule of law whenever it occurs and whoever is the perpetrator. It is our democratic right to do so and indeed, a devolved constitutional duty, which we will not shirk. In this regard, the National Assembly enjoys no exemption either in logic or law.
Finally, the administration does not discount the possibility that this statement is a veiled attempt by the AFC to intimidate the Honourable Chief Justice, who currently, has conduct of a matter filed by the Attorney-General challenging the opposition’s actions in the National Assembly which resulted in the Speaker prohibiting the Minister of Home Affairs and an elected member of the National Assembly, Mr Clement Rohee, from discharging his duties in the House.
The administration intends to vigilantly monitor and expose this new AFC political strategy of judicial intimidation.
Mohabir Anil Nandlall MP
Attorney General and Minister of