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Breaking the law to fix it


Breaking the law to fix it

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THE ADMINISTRATION of the Town & Country Planning Act is in shambles.

That law establishes a Town & Country Planning advisory committee whose function is to advise the minister responsible for administration of the act on all matters referred to him and for which he requires professional advice.

The minister is duty bound to appoint that committee without which he cannot perform any statutory function prescribed by the act Cap 240 implying the competence of a professional executing matters described in the second schedule of the act as matters for which development plans may be made.

The minister has for years not appointed the statutory committee since the expiry of its last term on the ground that he is contemplating a restructuring of the provisions of the law.

The English Parliament is deemed to be the highest court of law only because it contains the House of Lords as the ultimate appellate jurisdiction. Not so the Barbados Parliament which has no judicial authority but is bound by the Supreme Court’s interpretation of laws made by the autonomous legislature.

Consistent with this observation is the assertion by the Speaker of the House of Assembly that there is nothing wrong with any citizen seeking remedy in the court for any perceived miscarriage of justice or misinterpretation of the law by the “Government” or public official; while otherwise public officers in fact refuse to observe due process of existing law in determination of applications made by persons who have sought or are seeking declaration by the courts as justice.

Worse than that aberration is any suggestion that the court itself is reluctant to rule against public officials and ministers who have failed to perform a statutory duty while waiting for an amendment of the law or change of circumstances to vindicate administrative errors discovered and exposed, as if retroactive legislation could absolve the misdemeanour.

The consciousness of this reality creates a silence that makes cowards of those who do not protest the injustice fearing the dread of victimisation by the travesty.