It was as predictable as night follows day that Mr Anil Nandlall’s Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Legal Affairs would justify the four-year delay in bringing the Judicial Review Act into operation with the excuse that this was dependent on the making of Rules of Court (‘The Judicial Review Act cannot be brought into force until new Rules of Court are promulgated’ SN, Oct 8).
It was even predictable that Mr Nandlall would shelter under the coattails of his Permanent Secretary, Ms Indira Anandjit, from which to throw pebbles at me. This is not unlike what he did in the case of the ceremony for the announcement of the launch of the bungled Laws of Guyana by him and his ministry for which he craves compliments.
Mr Nandlall’s appears incapable of any public discussion without resorting to ad hominem comments and attacks, however misguided. On this occasion, his ministry’s employee suggests that I may have read but not understood the provision of the Judicial Review Act regarding applications thereunder. He could not bring himself to think that in obtaining information for my letter on the four-year failure by the Ramson/ Nandlall team I would have informed myself of the facts regarding that Act and the Rules.
Mr Nandlall habitually looks for scapegoats to explain his increasingly exposed shortcomings and failures. On more than one occasion he has sought to blame the delay for the operationalising of the Judicial Review Act on the Rules Committee chaired by Chancellor (ag), Mr Carl Singh. It seems that neither Mr Nandlall nor his Permanent Secretary is aware that that those Rules duly signed by the members of the Rules Committee were laid in the National Assembly on November 18, 2010 as High Court Rules 2010 – No. 4 of 2010. In the National Assembly of which Mr Nandlall was a member, the Rules were described as “flawless” by Mr Ramson, the then Attorney General.
Having been laid in the National Assembly, those Rules were ready to become operational on the date of publication in the Gazette, or some later date provided. Mr Nandlall as Minister of Legal Affairs has executive responsibility for the administration of justice and it is in him and him alone that the power and duty vest to bring the Judicial Review Act into operation. Under the High Court Act the Attorney General, or his appointee, is a member of the Rules Committee, which he appears not to know! I must ask, is Mr Nandlall for real?
Even if the rules were still in draft as Mr Nandlall believes, he compounded his poor knowledge by attempting to hoodwink the public into believing that the Judicial Review Act can only be brought into force when the entire body of new Rules of Court is promulgated. And if his Permanent Secretary knew a little bit more than Mr Nandlall does about administration she would have told him that all that is required is for the justice administration to lift from the new rules the relevant Part 47 comprising three pages of twelve paragraphs and publish that part separately.
That is not unusual. There are several recent precedents for the making of subsidiary rules or legislation for specific legal purposes including:
– The rules establishing the Commercial Court and setting out the procedures for the operation of that court;
– The Practice Direction Rule establishing the Constitutional Division of the High Court; and
– The Family (Proceedings and Procedures) Rules 2012 comprising 130 pages. Parenthetically, Mr Nandlall or his Permanent Secretary may wish to explain honestly why more than two years after the publication of the Family (Proceedings and Procedures) Rules, and even longer after the completion of the building to house the Family Court, that court has still not been established.
It is not that Mr Nandlall thinks it is easier to bring up rules of 130 pages than it is rules of three pages; it is that he is afraid to bring the Judicial Review Act of 2010 into being because it would facilitate legal challenges to the executive’s excesses and breaches of administrative law. It would give to the High Court the power to grant aggrieved citizens injunctions and declarations more easily than are available under the current rules.
Finally, in my view Mr Nandlall has taken the administration of justice to its nadir. I truly hope for the sake of this country that it does not get worse, although with Mr Nandlall and Ms Anandjit I am not confident.