Supreme Court Judges are entitled to apply for sabbatical leave as part of the terms and conditions of their jobs.
However, they can only access such a benefit after the Judiciary has established the administrative arrangements to facilitate it.
High Court Judge James Aboud made the statements as he delivered judgement, in an interpretation lawsuit filed by the Office of the Attorney General to help resolve the controversial issue, at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain, on Wednesday.
While Aboud was careful to note that he was not called upon to consider when former president Anthony Carmona granted permission for embattled Chief Justice Ivor Archie to take a six-month sabbatical in March, last year, the decision technically means that such leave was not permitted as the administrative arrangements are yet to be finalised.
“It seems prudent to me, and in keeping with my understanding of the law, that administrative arrangements should be developed before any applications for sabbatical leave are made, considered or granted to any member of the higher Judiciary,” he said.
In the 44-page judgement, Aboud undertook an in-depth analysis of the 98th report of the Salaries Review Commission (SRC), published November 13, 2013.
In the lawsuit, lawyers representing the AG’s Office claimed that while the option was proposed in the SRC report, it did not become official policy as it was not passed by Parliament or set in regulations by the President.
Aboud disagreed as he pointed out that recommendations on increased salaries and employment benefits for judicial officers, made by the SRC over the past 20 years, were implemented despite a lack of input from Parliament and the President.
Aboud said that the tabling of the reports in Parliament is merely an act of notification.
In his judgement, Aboud noted that while the SRC report recommended that the Chief Justice approve sabbatical applications, it was silent on who should approve his. Aboud said the establishment of Judiciary’s internal arrangements would assist in resolving that issue.
The AG’s Office was represented by Rolston Nelson, SC, Zelica Haynes-Soo Hon, Ria Mohammed-Davidson and Vincent Jardine. Douglas Mendes, SC, Darrell Allahar and Vahini Jainarine represented the Law Association. Russell Martineau, SC, Amirah Rahaman and Alana Bissessar represented the judges.
- by Derek Achong