Judges of both the Supreme and Appeal Courts are said to be upset over the decision by Chief Justice Ivor Archie to proceed on an additional six-week vacation and are demanding answers about the “type’ of leave he has proceeded on.
Archie left the country last weekend. In his absence, Justice Allan Mendonca will act as Chief Justice from May 19t-June 7, when Mendonca himself will be out of the country.
Appeal Court Judge Alice Yorke Soo Hon will act from June 8-17 and Mendonca will act again from June 18-29-. Archie is due to return to office on June 30.
In an email to judges, Archie’s administrative secretary Shabiki Cazabon said the CJ would be out of the jurisdiction from May 19-June 30 to continue his vacation leave cut short by the death of his mother.
The T&T Guardian was told members of the Judiciary and “even those in the Court of Appeal,” are “very angry” at the leave. By their calculation, Archie is only entitled to a further two weeks.
“We are very upset, nobody understands the leave,” the judges said.
One angry member of the Judiciary told the T&T Guardian, “It is time for members of the Court of Appeal to stand up for what is right and bring an end to this. The Court of Appeal has to say the Judiciary cannot take this.”
Last November, Archie applied for six months sabbatical leave which was approved by then-president Anthony Carmona. But that leave was scuttled after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley raised questions about the authority for it after he received a request for Justice Allan Mendonca to act as CJ in Archie’s absence. The recommendation for sabbatical leave was contained in the 98th report of the Salaries Review
Commission but not approved by the Parliament. An interpretation summons filed by the state on the matter will be heard in June.
Archie then announced he was taking vacation leave and left the country in March. He returned recently following the death of his mother, but flew out again last weekend on vacation leave.
Yesterday, with questions swirling in the public domain about the additional six weeks leave, legal sources called on President Paula-Mae Weekes to “clear the air” and tell the country “what is the nature of the leave which was approved and where did it come from?”
They added that it’s not “good enough” for Weekes to say this leave was approved by the former president.
Israel Khan SC defended Weekes, saying if the leave had been approved by her predecessor “she had little choice in the matter.”
Khan told the Guardian it is open to interpretation that the leave which Archie had embarked on was “sabbatical leave,” but questioned how as CJ he could proceed on such leave given the matter is now before the court for interpretation. He said “until the court interprets the summons as to whether he is entitled to sabbatical leave or not, the status quo remains”. However, he said, “The CJ ought not to take that leave until the court decides.”
He said the President “could have stepped out of her crease and said she was awaiting the court’s ruling on the interpretation summons, but given that the leave had been approved by the former president she wanted to be objective and not take sides.”
However, Khan said it was passing strange that nowhere was it mentioned that the CJ’s original six-week vacation leave was broken because of his mother’s funeral.
Source: www.guardian.co.tt (Rosemarie Sant)