Sunday 29 March, 2020

Gopeesingh calls on PM to set up tribunal to investigate CJ

Caroni East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh is calling on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to take decisive action on the allegations levelled against Chief Justice Ivor Archie.

This comes after Dr Rowley said he will not commence impeachment proceedings against the CJ to have a president-appointed tribunal established to look into his conduct in office.

In a statement on Tuesday, Gopeesingh said there are persistent reports of sharp conflicts in the judiciary while the country’s most senior judicial officer remains under a dark cloud pertaining to professional and personal decisions.

He said the Law Association, whose hundreds of members are essential stakeholders in the administration of justice, is also demanding action from the Prime Minister, as are other distinguished commentators and the media.

There are deep and urgent concerns that the judicial system could become another failed national institution under the PNM’s incompetent leadership.

"The administration of justice is already burdened by endemic problems, of which CJ Archie is familiar and on which he had previously pronounced. Dr. Rowley, therefore, has no alternative but to trigger Section 137 of the national Constitution and establish an independent tribunal to properly investigate the issues. Failure to act would be a major dereliction of constitutional duty by the Prime Minister and another example of poor governance."

According to Gopeesingh, the Chief Justice must be recognised as untainted by allegations and a tribunal could have the effect of clearing Archie’s name.

"In the interest of restoring implicit faith in the administration of justice, Dr Rowley is strongly urged to reassess his decision and to immediately implement the constitutional provision. He must know that should he fail to act, he would be held directly responsible for the inevitable destruction of the judiciary and the ensuing anarchy."

The Opposition MP said Dr Rowley could even consider the options proposed a few months ago by jurist, Michael de la Bastide. He added that the legal advice Dr Rowley received on the matter from an undisclosed attorney cannot outweigh that of scores of other legal luminaries.

"Should the Prime Minister remain adamant in not convening a tribunal, he must properly inform the nation of the details of the advice he received on the matter. He must promptly publicise the advice, along with the name of author of the report and the cost to taxpayers. This vital national issue has been left to fester for too long, during which there has been untold damage to the judiciary and to the public’s confidence in the administration of justice."

Gopeesingh said Dr Rowley must do the right thing now or be held accountable for the grave consequences.


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