Mincing no words, former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs and Member of Parliament (MP) of the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) Anil Nandlall said if there is any attempt to ignore the strict constitutional prescription as it relates to the substantive appointments of Chancellor and Chief Justice (CJ) his party “will leave no stone unturned in a relentless effort to ensure constitutional compliance.”
Nandlall in a strongly worded statement posited that the pronouncements made yesterday by State Minister Joseph Harmon over the constitutional appointments of President David Granger’s nominees for the substantive post of Chancellor and CJ infers that if no agreement can be reached between the President and the Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, the appointments can lawfully be made once their is “meaningful consultation.”
He made reference to DPI’s article where Harmon was quoted as saying “President David Granger will be writing Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo informing him that another level of consultations will be held before the appointment of a substantive Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chief Justice…”
Moreover, Harmon said “….There is a provision in the law which provides that in the event that there cannot be agreement because the requirement is for there to be agreement. Where agreement cannot be met, there is a second level which now requires meaningful consultations, so I believe that is the next step we will have to go to.”
According to Nandlall however, Harmon “either wittingly or unwittingly, is grossly misrepresenting the constitutional position.”
“The sole relevant Article, 127 (1), is excruciatingly clear. It is expressed in a singular sentence, spanning only three lines. It brokers no place for ambiguity or equivocation. It provides: 127 (1) The Chancellor and the Chief Justice shall be appointed by the President acting after obtaining the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition” said Nandlall.
Moreover, he posited that this is one issue that must never be allowed the casualty of partisan politics.
“If the head of the Judiciary, the constitutional bulwark of our democracy and the organ of State vested with the responsibility to protect our constitutional and human rights and freedoms and to preserve our democracy, law and order and indeed civil society as we know it, is allowed to be bastardised by the authoritarians who now wield political power, this nation will rapidly degenerate into a state of anarchy from which we may never fully recover” he said.
Hinting that his party will legally challenge any attempt towards the unilateral appointment of Justice Kenneth Benjamin, as Chancellor of the Judiciary and Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, as Chief Justice, the former AG said “it is sincerely hoped that the two highly respected and experienced judicial officers identified by the President will not lend themselves to be used in this proposed constitutional heresy, for they will be embroiled in the ensuing litigation which may unnecessary tarnish their high professional standing, stature and professional reputation. I hold both of them in sufficiently high esteem to know that they would recognise the vulgar violation of the Constitution that is being contemplated.”
After doing his due diligence, Jagdeo earlier this week rejected the President’s nominees for the substantive post of Chancellor and CJ.
Jagdeo said that he remained cognizant of the fundamental importance of securing substantive appointments to these two high constitutional offices.
“As a result, I am committed to continuous engagement with your Excellency until there is due compliance with Article 127 (1) of the Constitution” he said.