I REFER to the letter of Attorney-General, Anil Nandlall, (Sep. 8) relating to the Azeena Baksh matter. Ms. Baksh was convicted of taking gratuities that was approved by the PPP/C administration in 2012 but which the APNU+AFC government claims she was not entitled. It was not a criminal case but the APNU+AFC government made it a criminal matter.
It seems that the conviction of Ms. Baksh and lack of a written decision are politically motivated. Some six months after the conviction, the judgment has not been submitted to allow for the hearing of an appeal, a violation of the law. She is denied an expedited appeal on account of politics and vendetta.
Ms. Baksh was appointed Registrar in 2012 by the Judicial Service Commission. Only the commission can terminate her service. The termination never happened. By law, she is still Deeds Registrar. Thus, she is entitled to return to her job until the JSC says otherwise. But the Granger administration did not appoint a JSC. Thus, the matter is left unresolved.
The terms and conditions of her job were approved by Cabinet making her appointment and salary legal. She was entitled to a certain amount of money $4.5 M over a period of time for her service as a result of a change of title and terms of employment. Ms. Baksh was convicted of a crime she did not commit; she did not violate any rules. She was convicted of receiving gratuity that the coalition government claims she was not entitled. But when she accepted the terms of the contract it was on the basis that she would receive gratuity. She lawfully authorised payment to her bank account. Ms. Baksh was punished because she was appointed by the previous government and coalition wanted her out.
Her contract was approved by Cabinet and the JSC. Cabinet made a ruling that she was entitled to gratuity. Yet the magistrate ruled (KN March 12) that she was not entitled to gratuity upon which the conviction was based. It was a preposterous ruling in violation of norms of justice. Her lawyer, Nigel Hughes, has appealed. Mr. Hughes and other lawyers are convinced that the case reeks of politics.
Lawyers I spoke with said Ms. Baksh is entitled to gratuity and she did not violate the law. Every lawyer I spoke with says the ruling will be reversed based on misunderstanding of the Cabinet approval. Anyone who studies constitutional law would know that the judgment would be thrown out on appeal.
But the matter is not fixed for hearing because the Magistrate Leron Daly has not submitted the written judgment. The magistrate, by convention and law, was supposed to submit the judgment within three months. It is now six months, and there is no written submission.
Was the conviction and lack of written judgment politically-motivated? A case is being made for the termination of the magistrate’s service because of violation of the law. Whenever the JSC is constituted, Daly’s tenure must be visited as must the matter pertaining to Azeena Baksh.