Never-ending Piarco saga
The old saying "Justice delayed is justice denied" means that tardiness in delivering justice is itself a form of injustice. But the Administration of Justice (Indictable Offences) Act turns this aphorism on its head, making justice delayed a legal basis for undermining the rule of law.
Businessmen Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson have been touted as the immediate—and even intended—beneficiaries of this partly proclaimed law.
This is because most citizens believe that he who pays the politician calls the tune. And even this partial proclamation by President George Maxwell Richards is itself remarkable in a country where the Children's Act took more than six years just to get through the Parliament and where a Dangerous Dogs Act was passed but never proclaimed. Those laws were intended to protect the most vulnerable members of society, but were never treated as urgent by politicians on either side of the Upper and Lower Houses.
But the Administration of Justice Act, which in its present draft is more likely to benefit the rich and powerful, is considered so crucial that it was supported by both Government and Opposition MPs, while particular clauses were viewed as so vital that they had to be proclaimed even before the entire Act. Moreover, those are exactly the clauses which would enable Messrs Galbaransingh and Ferguson to argue that, due to the length of time their cases have been in court, the State's legal proceedings must now be dropped.
People generally believe that if something quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it's liable to be a duck; and so it appears that the People's Partnership administration has manipulated the legal process in order to favour two of its party financiers. Politicians, however, like to pretend that their ducks are swans. Politicians also like to say that where there's smoke, there's fire —but they only apply this saying to their opponents, while dismissing smoke about their own colleagues as "allegations".
But, since what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, the Opposition cannot escape responsibility for its part in this debacle. Despite PNM leader Keith Rowley's denial that his MPs were caught sleeping in Parliament, the Opposition MPs must either admit that they were outmanoeuvred by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and Justice Minister Herbert Volney, or that the PNM favoured this legislation for its own reasons. And, given that certain PNM financiers have their own legal challenges, what could such reasons be, save an agreement that "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours"?
The Act is supposed to go back to the Parliament today for amendment. Hopefully, this stitch will be in time to save us from further embarrassment.