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Paul Lismore

[Paul Lismore] When the judiciary is in the ICU and the Chief judge does not even prescribe a Panadol...


Rédigé par Paul Lismore le Mercredi 18 Août 2021



Thirteen months ago, I wrote an open letter to His Lordship, Chief Justice Ashraf Caunhye, explaining in detail 10 of the major problems experienced by the judiciary. I am afraid things are now much worse, despite the Rs 1 billion Supreme Court building with mod cons, private bathrooms, etc but hardly anything to show that our lamentable justice system has improved under the leadership of the new Chief Judge. 

My sources in the judiciary and some senior attorneys and counsel inform me with a huge sigh of despair and disappointment that Chief Judge Caunhye has not brought any improvement whatsoever in our ramshackle judicial and court system. Let me name a few areas where leadership remains either non existent, or where it does manifest itself, it shows that it remains as complacent and self serving as it has always been:

1/ The latest appointment of law officers by the JLSC, and once again, the appointment of the sons and daughters of judges smack of favouritism. I was informed by someone at the JLSC that the progenies, also known as the "fruits from the golden seeds", were put in a different/special category to the one for "ordinary" law officers. In the name of transparency, the Chief Judge ought to either confirm or deny the veracity of what everyone is talking about. It would be a really poor show and the height of hypocrisy if the judiciary is itself involved in corruption/nepotism, and then sits in judgement of citizens accused of the same offence...

2/ You should read the judgement in the Chung Chai Man v Dry Cleaning Services Ltd appeal to see how incompetent some of our magistrates are. The soon to be Chief Judge, Rehana Mungly- Gulbul, in a savagely brutal but thoroughly honest judgement, wrote of the magistrate's verdict: " The least that can be said is that after having made up her mind to dismiss the plaint on the ground that there was no valid cause of action, her attempt to analyse the issues appears to be utterly incoherent, confusing and erratic....There have been several recent pronouncements on appeal quashing judgments delivered by the same Magistrate and the court has censored in strong terms the approach consistently adopted by the same Magistrate in order to dispose of a case without any hearing on the merits but by simply invoking her formula “of no valid cause of action”."

Now, you would have expected the current Chief Judge to have done something about this magistrate, esp as she is guilty of the same offence repeatedly. Nope. Nothing to see here! Magistrate Bonomally will, I suppose, continue to be inflicted on appellants naive enough to seek justice in our courts....

3/  Not so long ago, the Mackay Commission recommended the appointment of judges from the Bar, as is the case in the UK. But we know better, don't we? So, in our wonderful etat de droit, judges are recruited only from the DPP's office, the Attorney General's office, and the Magistracy. There is no law to prevent successful barristers in private practice from being appointed as judges, and yet our new judges come almost exclusively from those 3 offices. It seems to be a case of quantity over quality in our judiciary, same as it is now in most of our institutions...

As things stand, Bonomally, despite her litany of absolutely crap judgements, can expect to become a judge soon....

4/ The quite decadent situation in our judiciary is simply the end result of the fact that most of the judges are simply not imbued with the sacrosanct principle of justice. What seems to matter most to them are their promotion, increments, latest PRB reports, and their official/duty free cars. Chief Judge Caunhye has a lovely BMW 8 Series limousine (taxpayer funded, of course...), benefits from 24 hour security at our expense, has an absolutely immoral and huge monthly housing allowance, etc and all for what? The returns simply have not justified our huge investments in him, I am afraid...

5/ Why do judges need 2 parking spaces in order to park 1 car at the Supreme Court?
    Why are books which were available in the previous library of the Supreme Court  now reserved only for judges? Has this  improved the quality of their judgments? Really?

      Why do Judges still take ages to deliver judgments? Isn’t this a denial of justice? The population should be aware that judges can be sued when they take an inordinate length of time to give justice . Most of them have been trained in the UK, so there is no possible excuse for them to be ignorant of the proper time frames for delivering judgements. They are highly paid to do justice, and yet they believe they are doing us a favour....   

I and many others had high hopes when Caunhye became Chief Judge. But he has been a big disappointment, and the huge amount of time he has taken to set the wheels in motion re the electoral petitions has given rise to suspicion and doubt about his motives, political or otherwise...

I suppose it is the pomposity and arrogance of the numero Uno of the judiciary to appoint Senior Attorney and Senior Counsels prior to retirement. One sincerely hopes that Caunhye will break the nasty habit of previous incumbents in allowing very obscure considerations take precedence over meritocracy. 

His record so far tells me that one should not really raise false hopes but to look at the man and not his sugary words...A doctor who refuses to give even a panadol to a patient in the ICU suffering from intense pain would get more job satisfaction from being a butcher than being the doctor in charge....

Mercredi 18 Août 2021

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