The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition seemed to agree at their meeting on Tuesday last that there could not be any constitutionally sound legislative solution to the crisis, which the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC) created as a result of its bungled appointment and the subsequent resignation of Marcia Ayers-Caesar as a High Court judge.
Both leaders apparently appreciate the constitutional risk of legislative interference in ongoing judicial proceedings when the legislation, in the words of the Privy Council, “would in practice apply only to a limited category of people” such as the persons whose 53 cases have been left in legal limbo as a result of the blunder.
It was a grave blunder to cause 53 cases to stall and to render many of them likely to be unable to be tried to completion.
The magnitude, intractability and injustice of the problem that the JLSC’s blundering has created must now be plain for all to see, whatever their party, political or other preferences. As an independent commentator, I try to stay detached from such preferences.
Five weeks ago, right there in the middle of the We Beat pan parade, some floor members of the pan community expressed their concern to me at the hard line I was taking on the JLSC.
All Stars was jammin’ sweet, close to a full moon night, and Kavita and I had been greeted with the usual warmth, but concern was there. One female held my wrist: “Daly, come, come, I have to talk to you. You don’t see Kamla and dem planning to take over the Judiciary?”
At the heart of the concern was the fact that I was on the same side of an issue as are UNC lawyers, who are despised by some. The concern was for me personally and I appreciated it. However, a few haters have put it about that I have never been critical of those lawyers as well as what is known as Prisongate.
Let me record in passing that such observations are untrue. The concerns I expressed about the bogus state of emergency declared in August 2011 and about Prisongate are not likely to be forgotten by anyone not blinded by profiling me.
Apart from columns such as ‘Post Mortem’ (May 2014), I was interviewed on CNC3 in a dedicated interview on Prisongate at 8pm and on TV6 news about the 2011 state of emergency, immediately after a famous testy exchange between Dominic Kallipersad and then Attorney General Anand Ramlogan. (Both TV6 interviews are available on YouTube).
Now the Prime Minster has said plainly: “This is a matter of the Judiciary’s making.” It is required “to look for other pathways” for a solution. The Leader of the Opposition made the point that “we cannot move on as though nothing has happened.”
So much, therefore, for those who tried to deflect, disparage or attribute bias to commentators who, from the outset, demanded such an acceptance of responsibility from the judicial quarter. How can we expect those who do not accept responsibility to find a solution?
A number of other home truths about the inadequacy of current constitutional arrangements were acknowledged in the media conferences held after the joint meeting.
With regard to the Service Commissions, only last week, I wrote that “urgent policy interventions are required in order to restore balanced and effective governance and objective justice.”
The Prime Minister on Tuesday last acknowledged that there are “impediments to good order, management and accountability,” that proper management arrangements are required and that there has to be “significant adjustments to the management role of the Service Commissions.”
For her part, the Leader of the Opposition would like to see the Government’s plans to accomplish these objectives. I think she is right if the rival political parties are trying again to get us out of the swamp in which objective justice and public trust have drowned.
The Prime Minister also acknowledged that our country is perceived as “corrupt to the core” and spent time saying that the Integrity Commission has failed to impact this. I wish the contribution of the shadowy State enterprise system would be equally candidly recognised.
A good way to kick-start consideration of plans to redress these deficiencies would be to release the full reports of the Economic Advisory Board (EAB), which is chaired by Terrence Farrell. The wide range of issues covered, including the State enterprises, can be seen on the EAB’s website.
One reader suggested to me that interventions “may have to come from a new kind of social civil society infrastructure.” I won’t hold my breath. Many of the elements who would normally comprise civil society are for the most part cruelly indifferent and almost exclusively bling- and status- driven.
Will some silent citizens in leadership positions raise their still voices if the political leaders are trying to get somewhere?