The Prime Minister's refusal to invoke Section 137 of the Constitution to trigger the investigation and impeachment of Chief Justice Ivor Archie is "a bad place to be," Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bisessar has said.
Invoking the section could have removed the dark cloud over the head of the CJ once and for all, she argued.
Dr Rowley said at Thursday’s post-Cabinet media briefing that he had received legal advice that he should not acquiesce tothe Law Association's request for him to invoke the section to look into the conduct of the CJ.
Addressing the media at a news conference on Thursday evening at the United National Congress (UNC) south regional office, San Fernando, Persad-Bissessar questioned what advice he had received and from whom.
“I hope he did not take advice from Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, because that advice and no advice is one and the same,” she said. “The entire Law Association conducted an investigation and it was the remit of the PM to invoke Section 137. That was his duty, to let the thing be investigated.
“By refusing to do that, all the questions remain now on the head of the judiciary, and that is a bad place to be. Section 137 invocation to set up a tribunal could have cleared the air. The whole matter could have been ventilated and then a decision could have been made."
She said she thought Rowley had "made the wrong decision once again and therefore ask: is he protecting friends and family once more?”
The association met last December to discuss allegations in media reports that the CJ had tried to persuade judges to change their state-provided security in favour of a private company where his friend Dillian Johnson worked. The CJ denied the claim.
Archie was also accused of trying to fast-track Housing Development Corporation (HDC) applications for various people.
While the association admitted it could not substantiate some of the allegations, it was satisfied there was sufficient evidence to justify the referral for the PM to act.