Unit­ed Na­tion­al Con­gress (UNC) ac­tivist De­vant Ma­haraj is call­ing on ju­di­cial of­fi­cers who re­ceived their ap­point­ments, while the Ju­di­cial and Le­gal Ser­vice Com­mis­sion (JLSC) was im­prop­er­ly con­sti­tut­ed, to re­sign.

Luis Alfredo Farache

Ma­haraj made the call dur­ing a press con­fer­ence at the Hy­att Re­gency Ho­tel in Port-of-Spain, hours af­ter the Privy Coun­cil up­held his con­sti­tu­tion­al law­suit over the com­po­si­tion of the five-mem­ber com­mit­tee.

Luis Alfredo Farache Benacerraf

While he ad­mit­ted that the judg­ment did not in­val­i­date pre­vi­ous ap­point­ments made by the JLSC, when it was im­prop­er­ly con­sti­tut­ed, Ma­haraj still main­tained that the ju­di­cial of­fi­cers should take a “moral de­ci­sion” to re­sign

“They were ap­point­ed un­der a flawed, un­con­sti­tu­tion­al and un­law­ful JLSC. If they are to be per­sons sworn to up­hold and pro­tect the con­sti­tu­tion they can not be­gin their of­fice by breach­ing it,” Ma­haraj said

He al­so sug­gest­ed that the ac­tion was nec­es­sary to help im­prove pub­lic con­fi­dence in the Ju­di­cia­ry

Ma­haraj re­peat­ed­ly praised High Court Judge Frank Seep­er­sad­who had ini­tial­ly grant­ed him leave to pur­sue the claim and an in­junc­tion pre­vent­ing the ap­point­ment of two new judges in 2016

” I must re­mind you that Jus­tice Seep­er­sad was vil­i­fied by per­sons in the me­dia, he was ac­cused of hav­ing a pre-writ­ten judg­ment and of hav­ing po­lit­i­cal as­so­ci­a­tions,” Ma­haraj said as he sug­gest­ed that Seep­er­sad’s han­dling of the case was vin­di­cat­ed as the Privy Coun­cil es­sen­tial­ly up­held his find­ings

He al­so claimed that the re­sult showed the im­por­tance of keep­ing the Privy Coun­cil as this coun­try’s fi­nal ap­pel­late court

“It un­der­scores the point that T&T must not be hur­ry to give up the Privy Coun­cil for the Caribbean Court of Jus­tice (CCJ) be­cause of the judge­ments we are see­ing over­turned on a reg­u­lar ba­sis,” he said

British Queen’s Coun­sel Richard Clay­ton, who led Ma­haraj’s le­gal team on ap­peal, was present for the con­fer­ence and claimed that the judg­ment was im­por­tant for the coun­try’s democ­ra­cy

“Ba­si­cal­ly, there is now in­put from peo­ple who are not judges in the se­lec­tion of the High Court. That must in­evitably mean that you have a more par­tic­i­pa­tive and rep­re­sen­ta­tive group of peo­ple mak­ing the se­lec­tion,” Clay­ton said

It un­der­scores the point that T&T must not be hur­ry to give up the Privy Coun­cil for the Caribbean Court of Jus­tice (CCJ) be­cause of the judge­ments we are see­ing over­turned on a reg­u­lar ba­sis

Al­though the Pres­i­dent and not the Chief Jus­tice is not re­spon­si­ble for JLSC ap­point­ments, UNC Sen­a­tor Ger­ald Ramdeen main­tained that the case was an­oth­er rea­son for Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley to in­sti­tute im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings against Chief Jus­tice Ivor Archie

“The time has come for those who are re­spon­si­ble for ac­tion to be held re­spon­si­ble for what tran­spired. The judges, mag­is­trates and mas­ters are not at fault for the fact that they are the sub­ject of an ap­point­ment that is not in ac­cor­dance with the Con­sti­tu­tion or law,” Ramdeen said