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Anand sticks to his story

Published: 
Sunday, May 28, 2017
ANAND RAMLOGAN

Former attorney general, Anand Ramlogan SC, who led a legal challenge against the Government’s property tax exercise

He is holding on to his position the process was not consistent with established protocol.

Ramlogan, who is representing former United National Congress minister, Devant Maharaj in the courtroom challenge, was responding to Registrar of the Supreme Court, Jade Rodriguez.

Rodriquez, in a letter to Ramlogan last Friday, insisted proper protocol was followed in the fixing of an appointment for the Appeal Court to hear the Government’s appeal of Justice Frank Seepersad’s judgment on Maharaj’s property tax case.

Her letter was in response to Ramlogan, who questioned how could Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi announce in Parliament shortly after Seepersad’s ruling on Friday 19 that the matter was being appealed and the hearing fixed for the following Monday.

Early last week, Ramlogan said Rodriguez, who is also the manager of the Registry for the Court of Appeal, told him no appeal had been listed.

Rodriguez said Ramlogan’s publicising of the matter without consulting her would have led observers to assume he intended to impute collusion between the AG and the Judiciary in the filing of Appeal Court matters.

She also noted Ramlogan raised concerns in a letter to her on May 21.

Seepersad last week granted a temporary halt to the submission of forms sent out by the Government to thousands of citizens in the first phase of the roll out of the property tax.

But Ramlogan, in a letter to Rodriguez yesterday, said while he was heartened to know she held the view proper protocol was followed, he wished to clarify certain facts for the public record.

 

Ramlogan said Rodriguez’s letter has, in fact, confirmed collusion between the AG and the Judiciary.

“This cannot be consistent with established practice and protocol and, if it is, then it must be immediately changed because it is patently unfair and wrong.

“My client should have been kept abreast of these developments so that he could make representations to the learned judge on his own behalf in pretty much the same way the government was doing.”

He said the public was never informed there was an application or attempt by the AG on May 19, a mere hour after Justice Seepersad delivered judgment, to move the Court of Appeal on an urgent basis to deal with the matter that very night.

“I was never advised of this fact by anyone. More importantly, we were never informed this application or attempt had been rejected by Justice Mendonca who indicated insufficient reasons were presented to move the Court of Appeal that night.

“This fact should have been communicated to the public and Maharaj’s legal team. It is noteworthy the Attorney General made no mention of this when he dealt with this matter in Parliament the same Friday night.”

Ramlogan told Rodriguez that not having been informed of these developments, it is unfair the court took a decision that “should a Notice of Appeal be filed and/or forwarded by the Intended Appellant (the state), the appeal will be listed for Monday 22 May, 2017”.

“That such a decision could have been taken without giving us the opportunity to be heard is unfortunate as the court was making a judgment call on a non-existent, unfiled appeal it had not yet seen.

“This was not what was stated by the Attorney General in parliament. He announced as a fact that the appeal ‘is on for 9am on Monday’.

“He did not say it was conditional upon the state filing its Notice of Appeal.

“Based on the disclosure, it is clear his announcement was plainly misleading and inaccurate as it contained a significant omission.”

 

Ramlogan told Rodriguez her office ought to have immediately corrected this misrepresentation which was widely carried in the media as it gave his client and the public the impression the Government was able to get a non-existent appeal, that had not even been filed or fixed for hearing in time.

He said this was done as a “politically face-saving announcement” in Parliament.

“That the government was able to accomplish all of this in the space of one hour after the decision of Justice Seepersad is incredible to say the least.”

He told Rodriguez when she communicated Justice Mendonca’s decision to Deborah Peake SC, representing the Commissioner of Valuations, at 7:16 pm on May 19, someone should have had the professional courtesy to inform his client’s legal team of this significant development.

“According to you, that was the responsibility of the Government’s legal team.

Rodriguez, in her letter to Ramlogan said, “it is the duty of the Appellant to notify the Respondent of the date and time for the hearing of the appeal”.

Ramlogan said if so, they failed to do so. “No one informed us about this development so that we could ensure we could adjust our court diaries to deal with this sudden Monday fixture.

“This is simply not right and if the shoe were on the other foot I daresay stronger objection would have been taken by the Government.

He said the President of the Court hearing these matters, Justice Jamadar, indicated that the panel of judges were only contacted late Saturday night around 7 pm to see “whether” they would be prepared to grant “an appointment”.

He said it was passing strange the AG was able to make a public announcement in Parliament on Friday that their unfiled appeal will in fact be heard on Monday at 9 am, when on Saturday night the panel of judges were only now being contacted for the first time to see whether they would grant an appointment, Ramlogan argued.

Not protocol Immediate correction

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