Oct 11, 2015 News
– Former acting registrar was appointed unconstitutionally
By Abena Rockcliffe
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, yesterday confirmed that there is a crisis in the Supreme Court Registry. This crisis arises out of the fact that from tomorrow the Registry will be operating without the constitutionally directed upper echelons.
Former Registrar (Ag) for the Georgetown Supreme Court, Rashid Mohamed, has been in that position for the past three years; but his contract ended yesterday. Mohamed was basically managing the affairs of the Registry single-handedly.
Therefore, when employees of the Registry turn out to work tomorrow, there will be no one for them to report to. There is no Assistant Registrar, Deputy Registrar or Registrar.
Kaieteur News got wind of this and contacted Williams who confirmed the reality. It seems like the issue is one that has existed a while now but was covered by an unconstitutional appointment.
The unconstitutionalities of Mohamed’s appointment are numerous.
Mohamed was appointed, by contract, as an Acting Registrar while there is no such position. The Constitution says, “There shall be a Registrar and Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court” the Constitution does not provide for any such position as Acting Registrar.
Also, the Constitution says, “The Registrar and the Deputy Registrar shall be deemed to be ex-officio sworn clerks. Then it states, “the Registrar and the Deputy Registrar shall be deemed to be ex-officio sworn clerks…A person who is an attorney-at-law and who within a period of five years prior to his qualifying as such had at least one year’s experience as an assistant sworn clerk in the registry; or is an attorney-at-law of not less than one year’s standing, may be appointed a sworn clerk for such time as he may hold a public office in the registry.”
Therefore, the fact that Mohamed is not an Attorney at Law also makes his appointment unconstitutional.
Williams told Kaieteur News yesterday that he was only made aware of the situation on Friday. Apparently, the Minister did not know that such an important office was operating without two of its head personnel. He also did not know the expiration date of Mohamed’s contract.
However, Williams found the fact that Mohamed had a contract was “strange” since that position does not usually attract a contract.
He said, “I was appalled when I found out that there is no one to take over and that there was no succession plan.”
Asked how he could not know, Williams said that such appointments do not form part of his responsibility as Minister of Legal Affairs nor as Attorney General, neither does the day to day running of the Registry. “My role is in policy making and the smooth dispensation of justice.”
Williams recommends that Assistant Registrar of Berbice be brought to Georgetown since she is most qualified professional at the moment to take the reins “during this crisis”.
Williams lamented, “He (Mohamed) knew he was appointed erroneously; but even so he should have had a succession plan now the place is headless.”
It is said that one is not supposed to act two ranks above his or her substantive position, before Mohamed retired three years ago, he was just a judicial officer.
It is not yet known how exactly Mohamed was appointed. Williams said that it is uncharacteristic of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to give short term appointments.
But, the Constitution states that the Registrar and Deputy Registrar must be appointed by the JSC.
The situation is facing the nation at a time when the Chancellor of the Judiciary, Carl Singh is abroad. It is not clear whether Singh is out of the country on vacation or officially.
Singh is not there to explain why the JSC, which he chairs, did not make the necessary appointments. The JSC allowed the Registrar to run without the Deputy Registrar which is constitutionally mandated. Several questions are to be answered.
The constitution says “The Deputy Registrar shall, subject to the general or special directions of the Registrar, assist the Registrar in carrying out his functions and the Deputy Registrar shall, in the exercise of his office, have all and singular the like authorities, powers, duties, immunities and liabilities as the Registrar, except where otherwise provided by rules of court.
“The Registrar and the sworn clerks and assistant sworn clerks thereto authorised by the Court shall have power to administer oaths and take affidavits, and to take solemn affirmations or declarations in lieu of oaths. The Registrar shall be the chief executive officer, and every marshal shall be an executive officer of the Court.”
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