April 26, 2013

Former high court judge dies in Trinidad

by Oscar Ramjeet Fri Apr 26, 2013

Justice Satrohan Singh, who served several years as High Court Judge in St Vincent and the Grenadines died on Wednesday in Port of Spain, Trinidad. He was 75.{{more}}

The Guyanese born jurist, a no nonsense judge, was known for the efficient manner in which he dispensed justice, and in an invited comment on Wednesday, former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell described the late judge as efficient and one who served St Vincent and the Grenadines diligently.

Sir James indicated that when his Lordship paid a courtesy call on him when he assumed duty in 1986, he requested that he expedite the hearing of divorce cases, since there were no fewer than 100 pending. Within weeks, they were disposed of, the former prime minister said.

I was Solicitor General and acting DPP and practised before him for three years. He was the lone judge and he disposed of between 50 and 60 criminal cases, including several murder cases within six weeks at every session, which was considered outstanding for any judge. There was no backlog when he left in September 1990 for St Kitts.

Justice Singh was reported to have humiliated the late Queen’s Counsel Othneil Sylvester on the last day of his sitting in Kingstown, which led to Sylvester filing defamation proceedings against him. The matter was eventually settled after a few years of behind the scene negotiations, by senior attorneys, judges and even politicians.

He was subsequently elevated to the Court of Appeal, where he served until his retirement in 2003. He was very ill with cancer when a special court was convened to say farewell to him in St. Lucia. He surprisingly recovered from that illness, but his niece indicated to me on Wednesday that over the past few months, he started to feel very ill, presumably from the medication. His condition worsened and he went to Port of Spain for medical treatment.

Before serving in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Justice Singh worked in Grenada and Dominica as a judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC). Prior to his appointment with the ECSC, he was appointed a judge in the Maurice Bishop administration in Grenada, after he had served as registrar in Antigua. Before moving to Antigua, Singh was a magistrate in Guyana after he served a short period as clerk to the first Chancellor of the Judiciary in Guyana, Sir Kenneth Stoby.

He was unmarried and had no children. He was one of 11 brothers; four predeceased him, including a former minister of the Guyana Government, David Singh, who also served as ambassador to China. He had no sisters.

His body will be cremated in Trinidad on Saturday morning and the ashes will be taken to Guyana for burial on Monday at the family plot on the West Coast of Berbice.