PRESIDENT Anthony Carmona is expected to today focus his attention on queries from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on a six-month sabbatical granted to Chief Justice Ivor Archie. The President was too busy yesterday to deal with Archie and the sabbatical following his (Carmona) resumption of duties after returning home from Miami on the weekend.
Contacted yesterday, Carmona’s communication’s adviser Theron Boodan confirmed that the Prime Minister’s letter was engaging the president’s attention, but he added that prior commitments which included presentation of credentials and the handing out of national awards yesterday, did not give the President enough time to properly sit down and treat with the issue.
“I know it is foremost in the President’s mind and he will be treating with the issue as soon as he completes his other commitments,” Boodan said. Carmona returned to the country late Sunday night. On Friday, Archie agreed to delay his departure from TT until Carmona’s return. The CJ had planned to leave on his sabbatical on Sunday.
Archie was not at his office at the Hall of Justice yesterday. A statement from the President’s Office on Friday said that then acting President Christine Kangaloo had been in communication with Archie on considering deferring his departure, to which he agreed. This invitation, the release added, was made in order to enable further communication to be had in relation to the Prime Minister’s letter to Carmona dated March 7.
Last week, the Prime Minister told Carmona in his letter that the CJ was not entitled to any sabbatical leave under terms of the Salary Review Commission’s (SRC) 98th Report. Dr Rowley only learnt of the sabbatical request last Wednesday, when he read a letter dated March 2 from Carmona, on a judge being appointed to act as CJ in Archie’s absence.
However, a Judiciary statement on Friday said that the way was clear for judges to take sabbaticals based on a series of past recommendations by the SRC, Cabinet, Parliament and the report of a committee of judges headed by then justice Paula-Mae Weekes, who next week will be sworn-in as the nation’s sixth President.
The Judiciary statement quoted the SRC Report as saying, “We agree in principle to the proposal for the introduction of sabbatical leave for judges. We recommend that office holders be eligible for a maximum of six months (of) such leave after a minimum of seven continuous years of service.”
Thereafter leave should accrue at a rate of six sevenths of a month’s leave for each extra year of service. The leave is for education, teaching or study, or a project to improve the efficacy of the court. Approval is given by the CJ, and effected by administrative arrangements by the Judiciary, the 98th Report added.
The Judiciary statement said that in line with the SRC Report, the CJ in May 2014 appointed an internal committee of four judges chaired by Weekes to develop administrative arrangements to facilitate sabbaticals.
“The Report of the Committee was submitted to the Chief Justice and to a meeting of judges and in July 2014 was agreed to in principle,” said the Judiciary statement, “and thus comprises the administrative arrangement of the Judiciary. Since then one judge sought to access the benefit but that application was deferred owing to the exigencies of the service at the time of the application.”