It is now certain that there appears to be a division within the Judiciary. Some judges back Chief Justice Ivor Archie, and clearly, there are others who are against him. Some are speaking out, others are writing, and others are just silent.
More than a month ago, Justice Carol Gobin wrote to Archie to summon a meeting of judges to discuss allegations against the Chief Justice. Archie turned down that request.
Well, another judge, Ronnie Boodoosingh, has come out of his crease and called out the Chief Justice.
Boodoosingh has written to the Chief Justice saying he cannot stand by and remain silent about the most significant threat to our institution in a very long time.
“All is not well on Knox Street,” Boodoosingh said in an email dated December 15 to Archie, Justice Carol Gobin and judges of the Appeal Court and High Court.
Boodoosingh said the Judiciary’s role in a democracy is bigger than any judge individually and collectively. When grave allegations are made, “we cannot just sit back and feel they will go away; that it could be business as usual.”
Boodoosingh said the Judiciary had been in continuous public focus and in recent months information was being made public with allegations that get more shocking.
He said like most judges, he had tried staying steadfast to his judicial oath to attend court, decide cases, contribute to the judiciary and “carry on with business as usual.” However, he warned that ten years from now “when the consequences of what we do now are still being felt, I will not stand accused of having been part of the Judiciary and remained silent on the most significant threat to our institution in a very long time.”
The serious allegations levelled against Archie include that he spoke to judges about changing their state security to private security and sought the intervention of the HDC to secure housing for a number of people. Archie has denied the former allegation but has admitted to seeking to get housing for individuals he deemed to be in need of such.
Boodoosingh referred to guidelines for judicial conduct which state that judges must not ask favours of others and must be “beholden to no one, only to our consciences and our judicial oath.” He said while they may have views on politics, social and moral issues, they have to be circumspect in who they express those views to and in what setting.
He added that judges must be careful about the friends they keep, even in the legal fraternity and reserved in “what we do, where we go and who we go with.”
He said while everyone is human with human needs and failings and will err, when that conduct has the potential to “undermine the functions we perform, shake judicial independence and the separation of powers, reduce public confidence in the Judiciary, open us up to blackmail or worse, we have to say something.”
JUSTICE RONNIE BOODOOSINGH
CHIEF JUSTICE IVOR ARCHIE