News day / JADA LOUTOO
CHIEF Justice Ivor Archie is still going on vacation. But now he will not be going on 35 weeks as he first intended, but only six. Sources close to the Chief Justice yesterday said Archie will be going ahead, “but will only be accessing his current leave entitlement at this time, that is to say, some six weeks.”
Arrangements are being put in place for this. In the meantime, Archie will swear in President Paula-Mae Weekes at her inauguration on Monday at the Queen’s Park Savannah. Newsday was told the Chief Justice will still have to reapply to the President for permission if he intends to leave the country.
“And it is the President’s discretion to grant same.” In his application, Archie would have to specify the dates he intends to be out of the country so that acting arrangements can be made. “But the President should consider whether it is advisable for the Chief Justice to be out for six weeks and the impact it may have on the administration of justice.”
One senior attorney pointed out that the Law Association’s appeal of a judge’s ruling on the Chief Justice’s legal challenge to an investigation into his conduct was set for hearing on April 10. “He is a litigant in that matter, and it would be for his attorneys to seek the court’s permission for him to appear through them, so it can’t be approached as an automatic approval.”
Archie said on Wednesday that he had decided not to go on the controversial six-month sabbatical for which he had applied to President Carmona. Instead, he said he would use his accrued vacation leave of 35 weeks. But his change of plan was questioned when sources within the Judiciary said there were no legislative provisions for judges to accrue so much leave.
According to the Judges Salaries and Pensions Act, judges are entitled to the “long vacation” period from August 1 to October 2, as well as the Easter and Christmas, plus six weeks’ vacation for a Justice of Appeal and four weeks for a puisne judge. Regulation 2 of the act, however, says vacation provided for “shall be taken at such time or times as may be approved by the Chief Justice and shall not be accumulated from one year to another.”
Sources in the Judiciary said yesterday the six weeks provided for was the court “long vacation” period, but a judge had to apply to use it outside this period. This means for the Chief Justice to access the six weeks, he would have to justify the need for him to use his “long vacation” allowance.
In his statement on Wednesday, Archie said, “Conscious of consternation which appears to have been caused by opting to access my sabbatical option and in a clear desire to ensure that the heads of all arms of the State are not derailed from truly important national business by this issue, I have opted to not proceed on sabbatical.
‘However, as I have, since the middle of 2017 been engaged with the highly respected US Federal Judicial Centre on the issue of my study, and, in November 2017, committed to this undertaking, I will proceed to utilise a portion of my vacation leave entitlement to address my study.”
The question of his entitlement to 35 weeks’ accrued leave was also raised by the Prime Minister on Thursday. In his letter to President Anthony Carmona, in which he addressed sabbatical leave for judges, Dr Rowley also cited the provisions of this act.
When contacted, communications adviser to the President Theron Boodan would only say the President intends to respond to the Prime Minister. He could provide no answers to questions on the Chief Justice’s vacation-leave application.