PRESIDENT George Maxwell Richards says it seems to him that the difference between making and executing laws is not clearly understood by all concerned in this country and warned that this "uninformed position" must not be allowed to develop.
Richards made the statement yesterday as he delivered the keynote address at a church service held at the Trinity Cathedral to commemorate the ceremonial opening of the 2012/2013 law term.
In the audience were Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, National Security Minister Jack Warner, members of the diplomatic corps and lawyers. Justice Minister Herbert Volney was absent.
"It seems to me that the difference between making law and executing or application of the law is not clearly understood, by all concerned," Richards said.
"This uninformed position must not be allowed to develop, lest encroachment upon the domain of the Judiciary become a feature of our way of life in Trinidad and Tobago," he said.
Richards then referred to the book of Micah which he described as "an appropriate reference from the scriptures" that "should resonate, regardless of religious persuasion".
"Micah tells us that as far as God was concerned the heads of the House of Jacob and princes of the House of Israel abhorred judgment and perverted all equity," Richards said.
"The strong lament at the time was that 'the good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net' and 'that they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward; and the great man, he uttereth his mischievous desire; so they wrap it up'," Richards said.
"In other word they were scheming together and it was a time of grave distrust among the people," he said.
Richards said Trinidad and Tobago was part of an imperfect world "and we have not been insulated from many of the wrongs that are being perpetrated in one aspect or another".
"Subtleties can be discerned which suggests that collective responsibility, where this is ordinarily expected is being eschewed for the sake of self-interest and survival of the fittest is the order of the day," Richards said.
"So the call to maintain or choose integrity is clear and it starts with the individual," he said.
"It is for us to judge the times to see to what extent there may be if at all in our setting even the smallest hint of the circumstances as described in Holy Writ to which I have referred. Conscience or perhaps the law should take it from there. But if we have a stake in this country as I believe we all do we will be wise in the decisions that we take those of us who have the privilege of being custodians of the common weal," Richards said.
Richards called for "continued vigilance" to ensure the independence of our Judiciary.
"There have been times, though few, when the Judiciary has had to sound the alarm as it were, in order to ensure that the demarcations insulating itself from any other arm of governance remain intact," Richards said.
"It is indeed an abiding charge to the Judiciary that this bastion be not successfully assailed. In this context one of the considerations that deserve priority is the financial independence of the Judiciary. Evidence suggests that this is further and necessary stage in the development of the judicial system free of impediments if you will," he said.