Pathologists and funeral agencies have been paid $3.8 million by the judiciary for autopsies and delivery of bodies.
This was revealed by Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi in a Standing Finance Committee into the Judiciary, as St Augustine MP Prakash Ramadhar raised the issue, claiming that this was the first time as an MP he had seen the judiciary “pays $3.8 million to funeral agencies and pathologists.
Probably I missed it before.”
The figure was outlined in the draft estimates of recurrent expenditure for the financial year 2019.
“That is correct,” Al-Rawi replied.
“For what purpose?” Ramadhar shot back, to which Al-Rawi answered “for the movement of bodies etcetera.”
Perplexed by the AG’s response, Ramadhar repeated the same question.
Al-Rawi explained that the payments are as a result of an intersection in the line of what the judiciary manages.
Ramadhar also queried how a judge could not deliver a judgement due to lack of paper.
Last month, Justice Frank Seepersad vented his frustration in open court over the absence of printing paper in the Port-of-Spain and San Fernando Courts, stating that the judiciary appeared to be on the brink of collapse.
Seepersad said he had to send his staff to purchase printing paper to make hard copies of documents during a three-day trial in the Port-of-Spain High Court.
Al-Rawi said that matter was a curious position in itself.
“The fact is the judiciary just has been using too much paper of its own. They were doing too many multiple copies. As I sat here, I received a judgment electronically.”
The judiciary has been allocated $2 million in the 2019 Budget for stationery and office supplies, a $200,000 increase from 2018.
The AG said it was unusual for someone to say they were not delivering a judgement when it can be delivered electronically.
“Judgments are sent electronically all the time in PDF copies. I couldn’t quite understand that public utterance.”