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Judiciary Fracas and Emotional Threats
Posted: Tuesday, February 15, 2005

By Linda Edwards

By the time every headline has been screamed, every religious organization has had its say, and a report that the "President Feeling The Pressure", has been digested; by the time the threats of racial violence from Sat Maharaj has been ingested by his followers, and his religious group has apparently absorbed his position one day after he returned from India; Mr. Justice Sharma would have been rendered unfit to sit in his high position by all the negative publicity those who are supposedly looking out for his best interests have created, not only in the current media feeding frenzy, but in the minds of all those who appear before the courts of Trinidad and Tobago during his tenure as CJ. Years of litigation could be begun by those who feel done in by decisions that may have had nothing to do with this present crisis. It will empty the treasury; create some richer lawyers and a poorer Trinidad and Tobago in too many ways to count.

We should stop it while we could.

That a man so recently elevated, by merit no doubt, to the highest position in the country's judiciary should so quickly draw fire (offensive and defensive) should of itself be of concern to all serious minded people.

Much talk about independence of the judiciary cannot explain the "Roman Catholic Church siding with the Maha Sabha". What of the separation of Church and State, or does that not matter any more? Granted that the Catholic Church does not seem to be advocating religious war against anybody, but is this a matter they should be getting into and publicly taking sides? This is not about birth control or abortion or getting into heaven, or the state of anyone's soul. This is about the law of the land.

I can take no position on any conversation held between the three legal minds that appear to have precipitated this crisis. I can only give some advice of a non-legal nature.

Years ago, a Teachers Organization in the USA of which I was president at the time, was having some difficulty with a principal whom everyone agreed was an ass. The advice from the national board was this. "Tie him up in so many grievances that his name appears in a negative context at every board meeting. Petition the board constantly to have him removed, until his name is associated with nothing positive. The board would do the work for you, if only to be able to get on with their other business. He is not the only principal they have to deal with, remind them of that."

Over and over I have seen this work. It could apply to both Mr. Manning and Mr. Sharma in the Trinidad and Tobago sense, except that the people elected Manning, and have given his party the victory twice since the General Election. Is the High Court then the place of Armageddon?

Is this how Mr. Sharma would like to exit his tenure as head of the Judiciary? Would the country be better off if he retained his post, or appropriate inquiries were halted, before they were deemed appropriate or not, because and only because of Mr. Maharaj's threat of racial warfare? Is this a fight Mr. Maharaj thinks any group in TnT today can win? Would this be good for the country, and for future high appointments of Hindus to the bench?

When a former judge was made president of the Republic, Mr. Hassanali conducted himself with discretion, distinction, and left the possibility that another distinguished Muslim jurist could lead our multiracial, multi-ethnic country. He has, as far as I know, continued to act with discretion ever since. A Statesman.

What are we concluding now?

Those who are issuing threats in support of the Chief Justice would not want us to go down in history as the country whose leader 's acumen gave birth to the ICC, and the same one who conducted a racial war a few years later over the position of Chief Justice.

Some of us see a bigger picture. Some of us see our muddy feet mired in the dirt of emotional threats.

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