JUSTICE Mira Dean-Armorer’s judgment is a “resounding answer” to those who questioned whether passage of Section 34 was Government’s attempt to create a loophole to benefit United National Congress financiers Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson.
So stated Attorney General Anand Ramlogan at a news conference yesterday at Cabildo Chambers, St Vincent Street, Port of Spain, shortly after the landmark ruling was handed down at the Hall of Justice.
In her 175-page judgment, Dean-Armorer dismissed all the arguments raised by the Section 34 applicants, which include Galbaransingh, Ferguson and Ameer Edoo.
“To all those who felt that Section 34 was the Government’s way of trying to create a loophole that can be exploited to benefit particular persons, I think this judgment gives a resounding answer to them because what it demonstrates is far from it, the Government has been committed to the rule of law and it was in fact a parliamentary oversight and Section 34 was passed through the collective inadvertence of the entire Parliament and I am pleased to say that we were able to rectify that matter with this judgment,” Ramlogan said.
“This in no small measure vindicates the position taken by the Government in this matter,” he said. Ramlogan said by October last year there were some 42 applications filed under the constitution to challenge the validity of the repeal of Section 34. He described Dean-Armorer’s judgment as “a resounding and a complete victory for the rule of law and the state of Trinidad and Tobago”.
“All eight points which were raised by the defendants in this matter were resoundingly rejected by the court in a very comprehensive, well reasoned and analytical judgment delivered in record breaking time,” Ramlogan said.
Dean-Armorer refused to grant a stay of the criminal proceedings against the men, telling their lawyers to take their case before the Appeal Court.
“It is a comprehensive, detailed, well-reasoned judgment that has analysed all eight submissions made, and I am extremely confident that the State will be able to defend any appeal in this matter,” Ramlogan said.
Ramlogan “respectfully hopes” that because a stay of the criminal proceedings was not granted, an ad hoc court will be convened to hold a trial for the two men.
“No conservatory order has been granted and that will be a matter for the Court of Appeal, but if no conservatory order is granted by the Court of Appeal it means that the way is now clear for the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) and the criminal justice system to be activated to try these defendants,” Ramlogan said.
“This matter has been in the legal system for quite some time, if the way is cleared and there is no conservatory order granted by the Court of Appeal or the Privy Council then I would be respectfully hoping that the Supreme Court of justice moves very quickly and swiftly to convene a court on an ad hoc basis to treat this matter with the priority and urgency that it clearly warrants,” he said.
Costs were also granted to the State, Ramlogan said, and he anticipates that the legal fees will “run into millions of dollars”.
Ramlogan also slammed calls by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley yesterday for him to step down. “This is a matter where the State has emerged victorious, so it is ironic that on a day when the State and the Government has found itself victorious that he will be calling for my resignation. I find that rather amusing, to say the least,” Ramlogan said.