– Chandra Sohan given temporary marching orders
Magistrate Chandra Sohan became the latest victim of the newly-constituted Judicial Service Commission (JSC)
when he was given temporary marching orders on Wednesday following a brief hearing into complaints brought against him, relating to his work.
Kaieteur News understands that Senior Magistrate Sohan, who was presiding in the Georgetown Traffic Court, was suspended for a number of alleged infractions, one of which has to do with conduct that borders on criminality.
He follows Sparendaam Court’s Magistrate Alex Moore who was sent off temporarily last week by the JSC over alleged inappropriate conduct while on the bench.
This newspaper contacted JSC member Justice Prem Persaud who confirmed the decision on Sohan, but refused to give details. In fact, Justice Persaud, who is also the Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission, was apprehensive about speaking to this newspaper over the telephone, citing the infamous recording of Attorney General Anil Nandlall.
According to reports, the Judicial Service Commission is looking into a complaint made by a woman, in relation to a court matter involving domestic violence. The matter was heard sometime last year at the Vreed en Hoop Magistrate’s Court, when Sohan was briefly presiding there.
There are allegations that Sohan appeared to be biased towards the woman’s husband during the time he was dealing with the matter. However, according to a source, Sohan is known to the couple and merely gave advice for an amicable settlement of the matter before it was dragged through the court.
In fact the matter was assigned to another Magistrate and the woman had been insisting on several occasions that she did not wish to pursue the matter in the court.
Surprisingly, the woman wrote to the JSC complaining about the magistrate’s conduct in the matter.
Sohan is also being accused of leaving the jurisdiction in December last year without permission.
Magistrates are required to get approval from the Chancellor of the Judiciary to travel overseas.
This newspaper was reliably informed that Sohan left the country on compassionate leave to attend the funeral of a very close relative.
The source said that at the time, Sohan tried to get the approval of the Chancellor of the Judiciary Carl Singh to deal with his travel request on compassionate grounds, but he was not in the country. He reportedly secured the blessing of his immediate boss, the Chief Magistrate who re-assigned some of his cases to other magistrates.
But perhaps the most troubling infraction being looked at by the JSC is what it called “some inconsistencies” with regards to Magistrate Sohan’s dealing with other court matters.
According to reports, the JSC is investigating the difference between the Magistrate’s records as against those in the police dockets in relation to a few cases that were before him. A source close to the matter told this newspaper that it has to do with the amount of bail being granted to defendants appearing before Sohan.
The move by the JSC could weigh significantly against Sohan’s upward mobility in the magistracy.
Sohan, who was the magistrate that committed Social Activist Mark Benschop to the High Court in an alleged treason matter, was tipped to replace Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry who is expected to be elevated to a judge soon.
He is no stranger to controversy, having been involved in a much publicised spat with the police a few years ago.
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