Sun setting on Chancellor’s career

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Acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Carl Singh

…concerns raised over whether he will try to prolong stay
CONCERNS are being voiced over the impending retirement of the country’s substantive Chief Justice Carl Singh and whether he will remain the holder of that office beyond January 30, 2017, which should be his last day of work.
Singh is expected to begin pre-retirement leave in January, 2017. Speaking under the condition of anonymity, a senior legal mind believes that the Chief Justice, who is also Chancellor (ag), should not be taking on new political cases during the time he should be on pre-retirement leave.
Justice Singh will turn 65 years old on February 23, 2017 and according to the rules surrounding the tenure of Chief Justice, his substantive post, he is required to demit office at that age.
“It must be ensured that the Chancellor does not take on any new cases, especially political cases. It is expected that he would want to start cases and then say he can’t go on leave as he will have to conclude the cases,” said a prominent attorney.
Moreover, it has been alleged that Justice Singh has been paying himself in lieu of leave; last year the Chief Justice paid himself in lieu of leave for six months.
“The leave must kick in…he has 21 days leave and he leaves on the 30th January, 2017,” the source stated emphatically, adding that Justice Singh “must go on pre-retirement leave.”
“He must not be paid for his leave, so he could stay on the job as he has been doing,” the legal mind declared.
Meanwhile, when contacted, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams told the Guyana Chronicle that the matter surrounding Justice Singh’s replacement is for President David Granger to address, noting that the Constitution makes provision for the President and the Minority Leader (Opposition Leader) to have consultations on who holds the post of Chief Justice and Chancellor of the Judiciary.
Questions surrounding the retirement of Justice Singh surfaced following a letter to the editor by Maxwell E Edwards three days ago. Edwards contends that when Justice Singh demits office, the office of the Chief Justice, whether by compulsory retirement or vacating at the age of 65, or by virtue of pre-retirement leave on January 1, two vacancies will exist.
Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards is currently serving as the Chief Justice (ag). She was appointed by President David Granger in December 2015. The letter writer posited that there will be a vacancy in the office of the Chief Justice and an extant vacancy in the Office of the Chancellor.
“None of these is, or can be matters of confidentiality, but are plainly matters of public interest and concern,” he stated.
The letter writer believes that there is an impending controversy on the appointment of a new Chief Justice and Chancellor, given that by virtue of the Constitution, the President is required to consult with the Leader of the Opposition.
According to the Constitution, the Chancellor demits office at age 68, however that has no bearing on Justice Singh as he is acting Chancellor and not substantive Chancellor – a distinction which ought to be made. Justice Singh has been acting Chancellor since 2005, after Justice Desiree Bernard demitted office; she had served from 2001-2005.
Meanwhile, the Constitution states that the President, following consultations with the Leader of the Opposition, may permit the Chancellor or Chief Justice on attaining the age of 65 to continue in office until he has attained such later age as may have been agreed with the Chancellor or the Chief Justice, as the case may be.
As argued by legal minds, Edwards posited that “no Judge soon to vacate his office ought to commence hearing a new or fresh case, for in all probability it would be a part-heard case when he/she vacates office.”