Sunday, January 21, 2018

Shocked Ramlogan: A big setback


attorney general: Anand Ramlogan

Mark Fraser

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said yesterday the resignation of Justice Sebastian Ventour came as a complete shock and surprise and would definitely be a setback for the Integrity Commission.

“This is moreso because of the Commission’s checkered history,” said the AG. “Justice Ventour’s resignation comes at a time when the Commission was stabilising after numerous fumbles and false starts.

“Justice Ventour was not an ordinary commissioner, but was the deputy chairman. Therefore he played a critical role because of his legal background and also because chairman (Ken) Gordon had to disqualify himself from some important matters such as the investigation into emailgate, with the result that the responsibility would have fallen on his (Ventour’s) shoulders.”

On the issue of emailgate, the Attorney General said he was disappointed because the resignation may disrupt the investigation, “as I anxiously await the vindication that is sure to come and has been delayed for far too long”.

In terms of the general situation arising out of the resignation, Ramlogan said the ball was now in President Anthony Carmona’s court to embark on a search for a suitable replacement and to engage the consultative process involving the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

Ramlogan said he suspected the selection of a replacement may necessarily involve someone with legal experience or else there would be no commissioner with a legal background on the Integrity Commission.

Asked about the propriety of someone returning to the judiciary merely to deliver a judgment, the Attorney General said there was currently a constitutional motion against the State in a matter where former judge, Justice Meyers, delivered a judgment some years after his resignation.

“The case is one that raises a difficult, sensitive and complex legal and constitutional issue regarding the reappointment of judges who have resigned or retired to facilitate the delivery of judgments at a time when they are no longer serving in judicial office.

“The Constitution does allow for temporary, acting appointments and there may be exceptional cases where it is the prudent and appropriate thing to do. As a general rule, however, it is certainly not a practice that should be encouraged and judges ought to aim to deliver all their judgments during their tenure whilst on the bench,” Ramlogan said.

He added: “When such situations occur it puts the State at risk of litigation and impacts negatively on the administration of justice and the reputation of our judiciary, which is by and large extremely hard-working, fiercely independent and very dedicated.”

Ramlogan said Justice Ventour had served the country with distinction in many capacities and his contribution would be sorely missed.