Former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC supports the Law Association’s probe of misconduct allegations against Chief Justice Ivor Archie, adding his voice to calls from lawyers and former judges who believe there is a case for Archie to answer.
Maharaj said he supports a two-member committee of senior counsels appointed by the Law Association to advise on if section 137 of the Constitution which addresses the grounds for invoking a tribunal a Chief Justice can be applied against Archie. The CJ is said to have proposed to judges the use of a private security firm a friend of his works for, and for recommending people for public housing. In a recent statement, Archie confirmed seeking help for deserving people for housing but stated the provision of security falls under state approved agencies. Agreeing with the Law Association, Maharaj told Newsday yesterday, before going abroad, he commented on the matter in his address at the association’s annual dinner at Hilton Trinidad, St Ann’s on December 1.
Reissuing his speech, Maharaj told attorneys the association had a duty to ensure the allegations are investigated.
Maharaj had reminded the attorneys of Privy Council member Lord Hodge’s statements last year that judges must avoid lobbying public officials for their own interest or the interest of people they knew. Quoting the law lord, Maharaj said, “The judiciary has a duty to correct misunderstandings of matters which are published to the public because the rule of law is based ultimately on public confidence in the judiciary.”
Justices Carol Gobin and Ronnie Boodoosingh are judges who have publicly called on Archie to respond to the allegations, although a group of judges, in an advertisement which did not disclose their names, published in Newsday, stood by the CJ saying he never proposed a private firm to provide security to members of the Judiciary. Maharaj reminded Newsday that he told the attorneys they must speak out against when there is public perception that the Judiciary may be compromised.
“When the judge does not satisfactorily answer the published allegations made against him and he does not cooperate with the law association or the legal profession in providing satisfactory explanations to the published allegations made against him, the legal profession has a duty to the public and to the legal profession to take action to ensure that those published allegations against the judge are investigated in accordance with provisions of the Constitution,” Maharaj said. Former chief justices Satnarine Sharma and Clinton Bernard over the weekend called on Archie to directly address the allegations. Archie has been abroad on private business in the past week.