Thursday, July 9, 2020

DCEC launches investigations against Justice Walia

The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) has decided to launch an investigation against Court of Appeal judge, Justice Lakhvinder Singh Walia following allegations of conflict of interest.

Court of Appeal Judge President, Justice Ian Kirby has however denied any knowledge about the investigations despite the court of appeal having acknowledged receipt of a letter about the investigations.

The letter dated 8th November 2019 which forms part of the court records and addressed to Justice Kirby, Judicial Service Commission, Chief Justice Terrence Rannowane and copied to the Law Society of Botswana and the DCEC, bears the stamps of all the above-mentioned institutions acknowledging receipt.

The letter was filed by Tours of Africa as a complaint against Justice Walia. The Managing Director of the company Again Pachawo states :“I’m writing this to express our discontent in particular the manner at which the said Justice has conducted himself and his conflict of interest in the matter involving Tours of Africa (Pty) Vs Regent Insurance Botswana Limited…”

In a later dated 13 November addressed to the DCEC, Pachawo says “it appears to me that Singh still have financial interest in the said law firm even though he purports to have relinquished his [partnership with Armstrong attorneys.”

He said his own investigation has revealed that “Justice Lakhvinder Singh Walia is a former partner in Armstrongs Attorneys and left the law firm to join the High Court bench.”

Pachawo further stated that: “His wife holds a very senior management position at Armstrong and works as a Personal Assistant to Mr. John Carr-Hartley.”

He also stated ; “My investigations point out that Justice Lakhvinder Singh Walia has retained Amrstongs Attorneys as his personal attorneys and continues to instruct them to act for him to date.”

An insider within Court of Appeal intelligence circle revealed that Judge President Ian Kirby has suggested that the matter where Justice Walia was reported to DCEC for conflict of interest be resolved internally(administratively) and not to be investigated by DCEC officials.

Responding to Sunday Standard enquiries, Kirby, through Registrar of the High Court and Master, Michael Motlhabi claimed ignorance about Justice Walia having been reported to DCEC for possible conflict of interest.

“I wish to state that the Court of Appeal President had no interaction with the DCEC and has no knowledge of any ongoing investigation by that institution,” said Motlhabi.

But Sunday Standard has seen a letter bearing the Court of Appeal Registry stamp and another letter dated 8th November 2019 bearing the stamp of Records Management Unit-Human Resources, signed by one M. Malisa.

All the letters are titled, “Criminal charges against Hon Judge Singh Walia-Justice of Court of Appeal.”

After initially setting aside the complaint against Justice Walia, the DECEC two weeks ago decided to launch an investigation against the judge after receiving new information.

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Sunday Standard July 5 – 11

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of July 5 - 11, 2020.