Former Attorney General and Senior Counsel Doodnauth Singh died at the Balwant Singh Hospital on Wednesday, August 21. He was 80 years old. Born on June 16, 1933 he lived at 255 Forshaw Street in Queenstown, Georgetown, and was married with five children.
The legal stalwart was a former Minister of Legal Affairs of Guyana, and also a Member of Parliament from June 16, 2001 to February 1, 2009.
Singh studied in law in England and was called to the Bar there in December 1958. He was admitted to practice in Guyana one month later in January 1959. He served as a private legal practitioner before joining the Attorney General’s Chambers in January 1961. There, he served as Legal Draftsman and as Legal Counsel to Income Tax and Customs and a Litigation Officer. He also served as Police Legal Adviser and Member of the DPP’s Chambers. In 1969, Singh returned to private practice.
With thriving practices in Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Antigua and Dominica, Singh showed his mettle and created a name for himself in the legal fraternity.
He was the Special Prosecutor against Patrick John, former Prime Minister and Members of the Dominican Defence Force. Singh served notably in the case against the former Prime Minister who was tried, and later acquitted, on charges of coup plotting against the Dominican Government.
In Grenada, he was the Special Prosecutor as part of the prosecutorial team which tried those accused of the murder of the Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop.
In Trinidad, when the Jamat al Muslimeen group was tried for attempting to overthrow the government of ANR Robinson, he was also part of the legal team.
In the legal arena in Guyana, Singh was noted for his role as defence counsel in the frequent trials of political activists, who were agitating against the Burnham administration. This included the 1974 trials of PPP’s political activist Arnold Rampersaud who was on a trumped up murder charge.
In 1997, he was appointed Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission for the conduct of the 1997 General and Regional Elections.
He gained the coved appointment as a Senior Counsel in 1985, and continued in private practice until June 2001 when he was appointed Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs.
His final act as Minister of Legal Affairs in 2009 was to successfully pilot an amendment to the Constitution of Guyana, establishing a Parliamentary Oversight Committee to examine the affairs of the Disciplined Forces.
In February 2009, the National Assembly of the 9th Parliament bade Singh good bye as he proceeded into retirement and he himself, in parting remarks, called for a lifting of the standard of debate, discourse and behaviour in the House. He described it as the “highest Court in the land” where the people’s business must be debated not as if it were a vendor’s market.
Meanwhile, the Indian Arrival Committee (IAC) expressed its deep sadness over his death and recognised the immeasurable contribution he made to Guyana and the legal profession and the inspiration he has been to many.