Former Attorney General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj says Prime Minister Patrick Manning wants to control the judiciary so as to ensure its support for his ruling party's policies.
Maharaj accused Manning of having a desire to completely control every aspect of the country's governance, including the Presidency, in a statement issued to the media over the weekend.
Maharaj did so even as Manning said Friday that he respected the need for the separation of the executive arm from the judicial arm of the State as defined in the Constitution.
Maharaj made the accusations in his capacity as chairman of the T&T Civil Rights Association and Act T&T, two organsiations which he said were planning to hold a national human and civil rights rally within the next 13 days.
Maharaj was responding to Manning's statement in the House of Representatives on Friday as to whether Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma should be removed from office in light of allegations made against him by Chief Magistrate Sherman McNicolls.
The Chief Magistrate has accused Sharma of trying to unduly influence the just-concluded trial against former Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday which is now under appeal.
"The Prime Minister wants a judiciary which he can control and manipulate," Maharaj said.
"He wants judges who would decide cases against the citizens and in favour of the Government."
Maharaj said Manning does not just have a desire to control the judiciary and has shown this ambition on more than one occasion.
"He also wants total control of the legislative arm of the State," he said.
"He has control of the executive arm of the State but he wants control of the Office of the President," Maharaj said.
He made reference to the 1995 placement of then House Speaker Occah Seapaul's under house arrest from August 5-8, by the then Manning administration for allegedly attempting to usurp the Government's authority in Parliament.
This even also saw Port-of-Spain being placed in a state of emergency during Seapaul's three-day house arrest.
"The Prime Minister believes in locking up people to get control of the public office. He locked up Speaker Occah Seapaul in an attempt to get control of the office of the Speaker," Maharaj said.
"He wanted Mr Basdeo Panday locked up in order to destroy opposition to him and his government in the Parliament."
Maharaj said Sharma's allegations that judicial officers were involved in an unscrupulous land deal proved the guilty verdict against Panday was unconstitutional.
"This unconstitutional conviction and sentence resulted in the removal of Mr Panday as Leader of the Opposition and has prevented him from performing his functions as Member of Parliament," Maharaj said.
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