PM: I reject President's justification of sabbatical

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says the decision by Chief Justice Ivor Archie to stand-down his decision to go on sabbatical leave and instead apply for vacation, averted "consequences" that he was prepared to take.

The prime minister said he rejects the president's justification of the sabbatical leave.

Dr Rowley was addressing a post-Cabinet news conference today.

He said the position of the Cabinet is that there is no provision for the Chief Justice to go on sabbatical leave.

"Had he gone on sabbatical there would have been consequences," the prime minister said.

He did not go into details of what the consequences would have been had the CJ gone on vacation, but he told reporters that he would have acted in accordance with the Constitution.

Section 137 of the Constitution allows the prime minister to appoint a tribunal to impeach the Chief Justice, something that was last done by Prime Minister Patrick Manning in relation to Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma.

The prime minister said he found out about the CJ's decision via a press release that suggested the Chief Justice would apply for vacation instead of utilising his "option" to proceed on sabbatical leave.

He has now asked the Attorney General to initiate legal proceedings for the courts to interpret whether that option exists at all.

As far as he is concerned, there is no such option.

He said President Anthony Carmona pointed to the 98th report of the Salaries Review Commission, as justification for approving the Chief Justice's sabbatical leave and that the CJ had a "legitimate expectation" to proceed on it.

"I dare say as head of the Cabinet, I reject that position," Dr Rowley said.

The prime minister said he received Senior Counsel advice on the matter but he also noted that the Attorney General also received Senior Counsel advice that indicates that there is a case for the CJ to go on sabbatical leave.

"Because of the peculiarity of Section 137, if required to be taken, it is by the prime minister alone. I got separate advice, which is separate from what the Attorney General got," the prime minister said.

He said he also pointed out to the president, the terms and conditions under which the CJ can take vacation, as spelt out in the Constitution.

However, he said that is a matter for the president and the judiciary.





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