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Tuesday 18 June 2019
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Al-Rawi: PP govt stayed quiet on JLSC

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB.

ATTORNEY General Faris Al-Rawi has questioned why former AG Anand Ramlogan, Devant Maharaj and Gerald Ramdeen were mum about the composition of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC) during the tenure of the former People's Partnership government from 2010-2015 and through the sittings of former presidents George Maxwell Richards and Anthony Carmona.

Al-Rawi said at a press conference at the Ministry of Legal Affairs yesterday,"Yesterday (Monday) you would have heard Senator Ramdeen make a very remarkable statement that since 2008, the constitution of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission has been unlawful. I want to point you to the fact that the claim brought by Devant Maharaj, concerning the Constitution of the JLSC, was a matter that began on June 6, 2017."

He said Ramdeen specifically said the make-up of the JLSC was unconstitutional from 2008 to 2017.

"It is, therefore, remarkable," he said, "that the UNC, that Devant Maharaj, sitting as a minister in the cabinet of Kamla Persad-Bissessar could have had no objection to the constitution of the JLSC for the entire period 2008 straight up to 2015."

The Constitution provides for a five-member JLSC, comprising the Chief Justice, chairman of the Public Service Commission, a sitting or former judge and two other members with legal qualifications, one of whom must not be in active legal practice.

"The Privy Council said two things...firstly, that there was to be five members of the JLSC; secondly, they said that retired judges could not fill the category of legal practitioners. The Privy Council's view was completely different from the unanimous decisions of the Court of Appeal," Al-Rawi added.

"The Privy Council had the following to say at paragraph 45: 'The board accepts that Section 36 of the Interpretation Act is likely to have a role in the event that a particular act of the JLSC is challenged on the basis of an alleged defect in its composition, but in the absence of a specific challenge, considers it undesirable to express any further view about its operation.

"The Privy Council considered that Section 36 of the Interpretation Act, which is the clause that said if you have a vacancy in number, etc, there is no defect in operation. That clause obviously has an impact but specifically, the Privy Council at Paragraph 45 in black and white says, in the absense of a specific challenge, that it would not go on to comment about what the JLSC did."

AS well as pointing out Maharaj, Ramlogan and Ramdeen's silence on the composition of the JLSC from 2010-2015, Al-Rawi also said, "It is important to observe that under Section 110 of the Constitution, the person with responsibility at law and under the Constitution to appoint members to the JLSC is only the President of the Republic of TT. Therefore, President Maxwell Richards and Anthony Carmona are the persons who made appointments and reappointments of the people that the UNC went to court in 2017 to complain about.

"So (under) the President appointed by the Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, there was no problem with the constitution of the JLSC, there was no challenge to President Carmona's reappointment."

For the entire five years, he said, Ramlogan was Attorney General under the UNC, "and very interestingly, he is the man in the Privy Council arguing that the JLSC appointment was wrong.

"So when did Mr Ramlogan know about this? It isn't conspicuous to the country that Mr Ramlogan sat on this for the whole tenure that the UNC was in government?"

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