The Court of Appeal yesterday upheld the actions of the Parliament in repealing Section 34 following “the calamity” brought on by its early proclamation by the Government.
This was Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley’s interpretation of the judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal yesterday.
“Do not let the Attorney General lead you (the media and the country) astray,” Rowley stated.
“I heard that Attorney General talking about “all ah we (in the Parliament) “and that it was an “oversight”. I will say it for the umpteenth time, Section 34 was not an oversight. It was a deliberate insertion into the law, done by the Government. It was done by Herbert Volney under the guidance of the Attorney General who had oversight responsibility for all legislation”.
Rowley said when the Section 34 clause was inserted in the Senate, Volney gave certain assurances to Parliament that certain things would not happen and even gave a timeframe of three to five years for the implementation of the law.
“So all of us (not in the Government) were surprised when the law was proclaimed in the dead of night on Independence Day, August 2012. All of these are facts. And the final and most important part is this; it is only the Cabinet that took part in the proclamation of Section 34. The early proclamation had nothing to do with the Parliament. In fact the Parliament was expecting something else, based on the assurances given by Government when the bill was unanimously voted upon,” he said.
Said Rowley: “The Government took a decision in Cabinet under the guidance of the Prime Minister to proclaim a piece of the law, namely Section 34. In order to get the President to sign it, they told the President, in a Cabinet note, stating that they needed the proclamation of Section 34 to be able to hire Masters of the Supreme Court, which was not true. Section 34 did not allow you to hire any Masters. I made that Cabinet note public. That note came to the then President (George Maxwell Richards) through the office of the Attorney General. So Section 34 is alive and well as a scandal that the Government conspired to have it given life and effect. So no court ruling can change this. And the word oversight must never be used with respect to the proclamation of Section 34. It was a conspiracy by the Government,” he said.
Rowley said the early proclamation of Section 34 allowed Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson to use the legislation to escape the court. He said it was a leak to the media that alerted the population to the fact that Section 34 had been proclaimed. He said it was then that the Parliament was reconvened as a matter of emergency “and all of us voted to repeal Section 34”. He said Galbaransingh, Ferguson and others sought to challenge that action of the Parliament. “So if the State won the case, it means that the Court upheld that Parliament acted properly,” he said. Rowley said he had not seen the judgement but was responding to the Attorney General’s interpretation of it.