Sen Mahabir: Allow retired judges to review draft laws
By ANDRE BAGOO Wednesday, July 9 2014
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IN THE SENATE: Independent Senator Dhanaysar Mahabir, who yesterday suggested that retired judges be retained by Parliament to review bills. The judic...
INDEPENDENT Senator Dhanayshar Mahabir yesterday called on Government to introduce new rules to allow retired judges to review draft laws before they are passed in Parliament.
The Independent did so as he backed moves to raise judges’ pensions, saying the Judiciary had a “sterling record,” and was one of the few institutions which had not failed the country.
He said a pensions increase would make the judiciary more competitive relative to the private sector.
However, he said the Government’s proposals — which have been agreed to in outline by the Opposition, and already approved by the House of Representatives — do not go far enough. He called for a special medical allowance to be paid to retired judges in need, capped at $30,000. He tabled an amendment proposing this, as well as the retaining of retired judges on behalf of Parliament.
In relation to getting retired judges to review bills, Mahabir said, “We should make good economic use of a resource that is there. I would like to see those bills passed through judges.”
The Independent continued, “For ten years after they retire judges cannot practice law. The State should consider utilising the services of retired judges. Let us create a pool of expertise so that whenever a bill reaches committee stage, it would have passed three retired judges.”
Mahabir continued, “We could pay them a stipend, and they may benefit in that way. In this way, we make use of resources available to us.” He said 65 was “the new 45” and said judges would be productive up to later stages of life.
Mahabir said despite the judiciary’s “sacred and sacrosanct” role as guardian of the Constitution, the State pays more in prize money for Chutney Soca and the International Soca Monarch, than it does in pension measures.
“What we have here is a judiciary with a sterling record,” Mahabir said.
“We are fortunate to have had an independent judiciary. How do we preserve the judiciary?
The judiciary is separate and distinct. Who are the individuals we would like to attract in our judiciary?” He argued that to not support the measures, would be tantamount to opening the door to the judiciary being undermined.
“When we look at judges pensions we need to consider the fact that they are not able to practice for ten years,” he said. “I am in agreement with every one of these proposals. I think it is time and it is fair. I think we can do more.” He said not all judges are perfect.
“Every profession has its miscreants, but they are in the minority, and these are the ones the professions will exorcise to ensure the integrity of the profession,” the Independent Senator said.