Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Parliament sits Wednesday to repeal controversial section of new law

Parliament will hold a special sitting on Wednesday to repeal Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings Act 2011).

That section of the Act imposes a 10-year statutory limit for cases. This means that a judge must dismiss an accused if the offence was allegedly committed 10 years or more before the date of application.

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan told reporters Tuesday the Government decided to repeal that section of the bill in its entirety "to preclude any possibility of any defendant avoiding the criminal trial which is necessary in the public interest".

The controversial clause was would have allowed businessmen Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson escape prosecution on corruption charges that are more than 10 years old. The charges relate to alleged fraud during the construction of the Piarco International Airport.

Ramlogan said, "When you look at the section, it is possible that a defendant can argue that look, I should not be tried. But when you look at it the other way it's equally open to the prosecution and the State to resist that but rather than leave that to chance, we felt the better thing to do in that case would be to repeal it in its entirety."

On Tuesday Opposition Leader Keith Rowley called for the dismissal of Ramlogan and Justice Minister Herbert Volney and demanded that Parliament be reconvened to allow legislators to amend the act.

He said the government reneged on a promise not to proclaim the act unless all necessary infrastructure to administer it was in place.

Ramlogan said there was mixed reaction from lawyers whom he consulted in relation to Section 34 of the legislation. While some of them said it was fine others advised that it created room for doubt, he said.

He denied that the specific article was proclaimed to benefit Galbaransingh and Ferguson. Ramlogan said media laws are passed on the basis of what is right, not on personalities.

"I think that's quite fanciful. Our independent bench, our Opposition bench and indeed the Government, we pass laws not by reference to personalities. We pass laws by reference to what we think is right and just," he said.

The Attorney General said under the common law principles any citizen has the right to apply to have his/her case discontinued on the basis of unreasonable delay and an abuse of process.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai