Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall says that a move by Attorney General Basil Williams SC to bring the Judicial Review Act into force on January 1st next year is still in contempt of a court order which mandated that he operationalise it by July 31, 2018.
Under pressure to comply with a court order requiring that he operationalise the Act, Williams issued the commencement order on Wednesday.
The Judicial Review (Commencement) Order 2018, which was made on August 15th, gazetted on August 16th and published in an Extraordinary Edition of the Official gazette on Saturday, states, “I appoint the 1st day of January, 2019 as the day on which the Judicial Review Act shall come into operation.”
The move by Williams appears to be an attempt to forestall contempt of court proceedings that were initiated by Nandlall over Williams’ failure to bring the law into force, in keeping with the decision handed down by Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George in May.
In a statement yesterday on the latest development, Nandlall said: “Only the AG himself can explain why he is engaging in this self-induced torment. I remain absolutely flummoxed at what he intends to gain by these unwarranted and untutored shenanigans. Maybe it is ego, or, just a morbid fear of what this Act will do to his Government. Needless to say, this must be one of the most striking examples of a Government’s avoidance of public scrutiny and accountability in recent history, anywhere.
“In my considered view, the clear intention of Chief Justice George’s Order is for the AG to have operationalised the Judicial Review Act by July 31, 2018, latest; not January 1 , 2019. Clearly, the AG continues his blatant disobedience of this Order and is deliberately subverting, frustrating and making a mockery of it”.
He added that by filing the Contempt of Court proceedings, he had placed the matter entirely in the hands of the Judiciary. Therefore, he said it is now a matter for the Judiciary to institutionally determine whether it will condone such flagrant violation of, and utter disrespect of, its own Order and process.
“Nothing saps public confidence in a judicial system faster than its demonstrable inability to enforce its own orders”, Nandlall said.
He added that the silence of the Bar as a collective in the face of this travesty does not augur well.