…feels that government angry over rulings he made
One year after coming off the bench, a former High Court judge now says that he is still to collect an estimated $10M in benefits.
According to Attorney Jainarayan Singh, he decided to make a living by returning to private practice after almost eight years as a judge.
Justice Singh, speaking to reporters at the High Court yesterday, is convinced now that he is being targeted by Government for his rulings that were not in the government’s favour.
Singh identified two prominent cases.
One included N&R, a company that owned Toucan Suites, a hotel at Eccles that was destroyed by armed forces during a one-night siege with wanted man, Linden “Blackie” London. The retired judge had ruled government must pay $125M to the owners of Toucan Suites.
Singh said that he was of the opinion that the military showed no patience and firebombed the building knowing that London had nowhere to escape.
“He had to eat and he had to leave the building. All they had to do was outwait him.”
The Judge said that he also took into account the fact the former Attorney General, Doodnauth Singh, had recommended to a Ministers’ Cabinet meeting that the government pay $95M by way of compensation.
He said that this was three years before his ruling.
Government refused. Additionally, the former judge considered the fact that Cricket World Cup was coming and the building, which was owned by Norman Trotz, was ideally placed to benefit from visitors to Guyana.
Further, the owners wanted to start building to cater for possible visitors.
Government has appealed that decision but Singh believes that his decision may be upheld.
Another case was the one-filed last year by the Alliance For Change over money paid to scrutineers. The government had released money to pay party scrutineers during the house-to-house registration on behalf of the Guyana Elections Commission. The judge also ruled against government.
“I was in my prime when I assisted the government of Guyana by becoming a judge. There were six judges on the bench when I joined and two retired the following year. Four judges were doing the work of 12…that went on for over three years.”
Singh is currently attempting to work out exactly how much he is owed and is not ruling out taking government to court.
The retired judge’s case is not unlike that of former Attorney General, Doodnauth Singh, who went to court recently to get over $14M owed to him as benefits.
Yesterday, Justice Singh acknowledged that attempts were made to put pressure on him but he never buckled… “I never succumbed”.
Questioned whether in his view Guyana’s judiciary is independent, Singh was convinced that in his days it was but he is not certain whether the same went across the board.
The retired judge’s case was also likened to that of former Attorney General Keith Massiah who was forced to return to private practice to make ends meet… “That is exactly my position,” he said.
Singh reached the age of retirement and came off the bench on September 30, 2008.
Currently, benefits are worked out by the Ministry of Finance.
But no payments can be made without the Judicial Service Commission which is the regulatory body dealing with appointments of judges.
Singh could not think of any judge who retired and had to wait for over a year for benefits.
He said that he knew of one judge who had to wait six months for his benefits.
He said that in his case he is being pushed around between the Judicial Service Commission and the Ministry of Finance.
He has not ruled out going to court, a move that former Attorney General Doodnauth Singh has undertaken.
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