A war of words has erupted between Opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley and Minister of Justice Herbert Volney over section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act.
Though the section was repealed after a late night debates in Parliament on Wednesday and Thursday, Rowley is insisting that Volney lied to the Parliament and was in breach of Parliamentary trust. He is calling for the removal of both Volney and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan after the debacle surrounding the now repealed section.
Rowley was not satisfied with the repeal, saying yesterday that both Volney and Ramlogan should step down for their roles in creating that situation in the first place.
"There is a situation of breach of trust," Rowley said at a media conference at his Port of Spain office yesterday.
"The Minister has betrayed the trust of the Parliament in a most grievous way and no Minister of Government in Trinidad and Tobago who stands so guilty and so exposed ought to retain a portfolio in this country. He must be removed from office," he said.
"He (Volney) is saying that he never gave that assurance and that it was a miscellaneous clause that could have been treated on its own. So we are calling for the resignation of the Minister of Justice and we will not let up, " Rowley said.
Rowley said the assurance was given to Parliament that no aspect of the amendment would be advanced until the backbone criminal procedures were put in place, but that was not done.
"The Parliamentary passage was conditional. In fact it was specifically requested that criminal procedure rules be prepared and brought back to the Parliament for Parliamentary oversight, for Parliamentary sign off. That was the major request of the Parliament, that was the major assurance that was given," he said.
"So nothing should have been able to go before a court of law from this bill, from this act, from this law, without the criminal procedure rules being in place. That is the assurance that Justice Volney gave the Parliament," he said.
"Then he says that the particular clause that has now been proclaimed and which has been used to confer a right on persons that want to challenge the State, that he never gave that assurance," he said.
In light of this, Rowley said he would "not rest until the Prime Minister takes action to restore the situation of trust".
Volney however said yesterday that Rowley "missed the point" on the issue.
"I gave the assurances to Parliament that Act would not come into force until all was done to facilitate the operationalisation of the new scheme. The Act was proclaimed to facilitate the operationalisation of the new Sufficiency Hearing thereby replacing the Preliminary Inquiry scheme on January 2 (2012). It was proclaiming it with effect from January 2 (2012). The preparation prior to roll out only related to the matters set to kick in on January 2. The other sections were proclaimed to facilitate the undertakings given. Dr Rowley missed the point," Volney said via text yesterday.
"Dr Rowley continues to live on the hill while the rest of us remain firmly on the ground. Dr Rowley was fired by Mr Manning and is desperately seeking comfort in the land of the dismissed," he said.