OPPOSITION Leader Dr Keith Rowley has slammed Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar for not speaking out against Section 34 in Parliament but opting instead to apologise after the fact.
Ramadhar, political leader of the Congress of the People (COP), is the chairman of the Cabinet's Legislative Review Committee (LRC).
Speaking at a media conference yesterday, Ramadhar said the controversial Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act was never brought to the LRC.
"Up comes Prakash Ramadhar this morning sanctimoniously, piously, foolishly coming to apologise and hear what he apologising for—that an error was made and he is the chairman of the Legislative Review Committee which is where the changes should originate and clause 34 never came there," Rowley said as he addressed the crowd that marched with him to President's House yesterday.
"But when (Justice Minister Herbert) Volney got up in Parliament and said that all the stakeholders had been consulted, Prakash who is chairman of the LRC is now saying that for the first time since November last year that the LRC was not consulted," Rowley said.
"Prakash is a senior lawyer, he knows this matter is going to the Privy Council and when it gets there the State lawyers will argue that this matter is so important in the public interest that private concerns of the affected parties must be overridden but the court will only listen to that argument if it can be shown that it happened as a result of something unusual, an error from the State," Rowley said.
Rowley said Ramadhar's apology would have been move influential if it was placed on the Hansard.
"When it goes before the law the law will ask for the Hansard to see what was said in the Parliament. If Prakash knew it never came before the LRC and it was error why didn't he say so in the Parliament and put that on Hansard so the State can use that as a defence when they get before the court?" he said.
"He is a lawyer, he knows the value of that statement on Hansard because he is the leader of part of the coalition and if he had spoken that in the Parliament lawyers for the State could have argued that something happened here that was an error and clearly it never came to the LRC and the public interest would have asked the court to overturn it in protection of the majority as against giving the minority freedom," Rowley said.