PRESIDENT Anthony Carmona yesterday remained resolute in his decision to grant a six-month sabbatical to Chief Justice Ivor Archie.
Late on Monday, Carmona responded to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s enquiry to explain under what authority he (the President) acted to grant leave to Archie to, “rest, reflect and study” in Washington DC, on a judicial fellowship. On Friday, Archie agreed to delay his departure from TT until Carmona’s return. The request was made of him by then acting President Christine Kangaloo. The CJ had planned to leave on his sabbatical on Sunday. Sources said Archie, who was not at work on Monday, has rescheduled his flight to the US to today.
Up to late yesterday, there was no word from the Office of the President on who would be appointed to act as chief justice, although Archie had, in his application for the sabbatical in November, recommended Justice of Appeal Allan Mendonca. It was on this recommendation that Carmona dispatched a letter to the Prime Minister, seeking consultation on the issue.
At a post-Cabinet media briefing on Thursday, Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General Stuart Young said Dr Rowley only learnt of the sabbatical request when he read a letter dated March 2 from Carmona, on a judge being appointed to act as CJ in Archie’s absence. The letter asked whether Rowley had any objection to appointing Justice of Appeal Allan Mendonca as Chief Justice while Archie took sabbatical.
Rowley wrote to the President, telling him Archie was not entitled to any sabbatical leave under terms of the Salary Review Commission’s (SRC) 98th Report. 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.
In a statement early yesterday, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) said Prime Minister Rowley, having received Carmona’s explanation, was examining the situation and will report to the country. Up to press time, Rowley had not done so.
“In response to the letter of March 7, from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to President Anthony Carmona requesting an explanation of the authority by which the President purportedly granted sabbatical leave to the Chief Justice Mr Ivor Archie, the President has responded reaffirming his decision. The Honourable Prime Minister is examining the situation and will report to the country in short order,” the OPM release stated.
Sources yesterday said that the Prime Minister was seeking legal advice on the issue, including the possibility of triggering impeachment provisions granted under Section 137 of the Constitution.
There have been repeated calls to the government to invoke the impeachment provisions to investigate allegations of misconduct against Archie. It began with the bungling of the revocation of the appointment of former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar as a judge in April last year, leading to the Law Association passing a motion on June 1, expressing no confidence in the CJ and calling on him to resign.