Anand Ramlogan, your Attorney General and mine, is in denial. For example, he denies that he is responsible for the Section 34 fiasco and that somebody in the Government leaked information to Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson that the government was going to have Section 34 proclaimed to their benefit.
He rejects the argument that, as the Government's chief legal adviser, he is overall responsible for all bills and acts, counter-arguing that the legal load is divided between different ministers and ministries — Attorney General, Legal Affairs, and Justice — and that, accordingly, the Administration of Justice (Indictable Offences) Act, 2011, including the infamous Section 34, was the sole responsibility of the disgraced Minister of Justice, Herbert Volney.
He also rejects Independent Senator Corinne Baptiste-Mc Knight's inference that somebody in the Government must have tipped off Galbaransingh and Ferguson about the Government's intention to proclaim the section since they filed their applications for relief before the section was actually published on September 10.
Ramlogan clearly needs to have his legal and political heads examined.
For one thing, the Constitution, in Section 76(2), gives his office the responsibility for the 'administration of legal affairs in Trinidad and Tobago and legal proceedings for and against the State' in relation to both civil and criminal proceedings, but it does not specify this responsibility — or any other responsibility for that matter! — for any other minister. Not the Minister of Justice or the Minister of Legal Affairs. These ministers may, at the Prime Minister's discretion, share his portfolio and provide support to him, but they cannot constitutionally replace him in his role.
Section 34 was a legal affair and involved legal proceedings, so it must have been his responsibility. So if Volney was fired for dereliction of duty — by misleading the Cabinet — then Ramlogan must be fired as well, for, in constitutional terms, he clearly had responsibility for overseeing Volney's work.
In his argument against Baptiste-McKnight's inference, Ramlogan observes that the senator got her facts wrong. She was wrong, he cries, that the legal notice of the proclamation — no 348 — was published on September 10 for it was actually published on August 30. Since it was published on August 30, it was available to the public since that time and therefore available to Galbaransingh and Ferguson, who filed for dismissal on September 10. It was therefore 'patently false and untrue to suggest that they were able to filter their applications before the legal notice was published'. What seemed more likely to be the truth was that the media — for example, the Express of September 3 in its front page story — had publicised the proclamation and alerted Galbaransingh and Ferguson!
I will accept without question that the legal notice of the proclamation was made on August 30, and I will also allow that, since they filed their applications on September 10, Galbaransingh and Ferguson may not have known before August 30 that the proclamation was going to be made. But there is nothing in the facts as the public has them — date of legal notice; date of filing by Galbaransingh and Ferguson — that tells us clearly that those gentlemen did not, or could not, know beforehand that the Government was going to proclaim the section. Nor is there anything in them that tells us they knew either.
What, however, tells us that they may have known is other facts. Like Ramlogan's decision — or refusal, if you wish — to not appeal Justice Boodoosingh's verdict that Galbaransingh and Ferguson be tried locally (and not in America). And the record of Galbaransingh and Ferguson as major financiers of the UNC. And any number of sleight-of-hand actions, including both the egregious elevation of the patently unqualified Reshmi Ramnarine to the headship of the SSA and the indecent haste to proclaim Section 34.
Newspapers no doubt inform the public about government activity but they are not to be blamed for alerting people to take action in the latter's best interests. If Galbaransingh and Ferguson want to argue that they acted on information they found in the news media, that's a good thing once the information is correct. But it is not necessary to argue the point that it is the media that may have urged them to file since they filed AFTER the date of notification about the proclamation, which, according to AG Ramlogan, is after the proclamation was public knowledge (in the sense of being publicly available).
But Ramlogan should not think that filing after the legal notice must mean that Galbaransingh and Ferguson did not know beforehand and, therefore, that there could not have been any political intercourse between them and highly placed persons in the government.
To think thus would suggest that his political head is in urgent need of a major examination as well.
But if it is true that Galbaransingh and Ferguson duly filed after the legal notice, what should we make of Baptiste-McKnight's position that she did not (and could not) know about the legal notice before September 10, in that while it may have been 'published' (that is, available at the Government Printery) before September 10, it was NOT ACCESSIBLE (that is, posted on the government website) until that date?
Well, that is a question for the lawyers. But don't go asking the AG for advice on this one! After all, he abdicated his responsibility in the matter of Section 34.