Justice Ivor Archie ruled
Justice Ivor Archie ruled yesterday that the constitutional rights of Junior Ministers Winston "Gypsy" Peters and William Chaitan were not breached by the attempts to unseat them from the House of Representatives.
He described the constitutional motions brought by the two junior ministers as "misconceived" and dismissed them.
Justice Archie's ruling means the election petitions filed by Franklin Khan and Farad Khan, which were on hold for the hearing of the constitutional motions, can now proceed. The petitions are listed to begin on Monday.
The Khans, who were candidates for the People's National Movement (PNM) in the December 11 general election, were 'defeated' by Peters and Chaitan in Ortoire/Mayaro and Pointe-a-Pierre respectively. Both Khans were present for Justice Archie's ruling.
In the election petitions they are asking the court to declare the nominations of Peters and Chaitan null and void because they held dual citizenship at the time. They also want the court to declare them (Khans) the winners in those seats.
Justice Ivor Archie remarks yesterday in response to the statements made against him by Attorney General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj:
"SOME reports have come to my attention. For myself I wish to say when I took my oath of office to try cases without fear or favour, without affection or ill will, I took that oath very seriously and I still do.
"The public, citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, can rest assured that they have an independent and impartial Judiciary. I approach every case in which I adjudicate with the spirit of that oath. And I have all confidence that all my brothers and sisters on the Bench approach their responsibility in the same way."
"The Attorney General's vicious attack on Mr Justice Ivor Archie's integrity and impartiality by suggesting that the judge's decision in the Chaitan and Gypsy constitutional motions will go against them because the judge was denied super-grade housing by the Government is a clear and unambiguous contempt of court."
Chamber of Industry and Commerce:
"The Chamber must record its strongest objection to the latest of the continuing assaults by the Prime Minister and Attorney General on members of the Judiciary, whose role exposes them to ridicule with little or no address, not that they are above criticism, but the latter must be lawful, justified and tastefully presented.
"We call upon the Prime Minister and Attorney General to apologise to the Judiciary and withdraw their latest remarks...."
Opposition Leader Patrick Manning:
"It is entirely out of order for an Attorney General and a Prime Minister, both who see themselves as eminent lawyers, to get up and put the kind of attack on a judge and Judiciary that was put on Wednesday night."
A group of 57 attorneys:
"It is our considered opinion that Mr (Ramesh Lawrence) Maharaj's statements constitute a clear contempt of court. He invited the population to consider that a judge of the High Court will be purposely influenced in a matter in which the Government has an interest for the reason that the judge's application for the provision of Government housing was denied.
Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj said yesterday he was not surprised by the ruling of Justice Ivor Archie in the constitutional motions of Winston "Gypsy" Peters and Bill Chaitan.
He said it was always his view that matters of this sort would ultimately reach the Privy Council. And both he and Prime Minister Basdeo Panday have defended critical remarks they made about the Judiciary at a UNC public meeting in Marabella on Wednesday night.
In answer to a question, Panday said this was not a final decision, and that the UNC would abide by a decision of the final court. He said the party will depend on the advice of its lawyers on how far to go.
Panday also maintained that the timing of critical remarks about the Judiciary by himself and the AG at the UNC meeting on Wednesday was right. The Prime Minister was speaking with reporters just before the start of yesterday's sitting in the House of Representatives.
"I'm not surprised at the development, because from the discussions I had with the lawyers in the matter, the lawyers for the State were of the view the case was very strong ... in any event, it was my view that it would be decided ultimately in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council," Panday said.
When asked if he had more faith in the Privy Council, Maharaj said: "I have always been a strong supporter of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
Justice Ivor Archie's Judgement
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