The recent selection of Narinder Hargun as Chief Justice by Governor John Rankin was a “carefully considered” appointment”.

According to a statement released by Government House yesterday, Mr Rankin “carefully considered the appointment of the Chief Justice, drawing upon advice received from the Judicial and Legal Services Committee and after consultation with the Premier, who in turn consulted with the Leader of the Opposition, in accordance with section 73(3) of the Constitution”.

This after Premier Burt said he viewed Mr Hargun’s appointment as “an affront” on the Government.

Mr Hargun will replace Chief Justice Ian Kawaley, who steps down in July.

The statement from Government House continued: “Narinder Hargun was appointed following an open and competitive process. As the Governor has already noted, Mr Hargun is a highly regarded lawyer both within Bermuda and internationally and his appointment will help maintain the island’s standing as a legal jurisdiction of the highest order.

“The separation of the executive, judiciary and legislature is an important pillar of good governance and the Governor is confident that Narinder Hargun will execute his duties impartially and fairly for the benefit of all Bermudians.”

Meanwhile, Opposition leader Jeanne Atherden welcomed the Governor’s decision “to accept the recommendation of the Judicial and Legal Services Committee to name Narinder Hargun as Bermuda’s next Chief Justice”.

“Mr Hargun is one of Bermuda’s preeminent jurists and brings a wealth of litigation and judicial experience to the post,” Ms Atherden said.

“I am also disappointed by the openly political opposition of the Premier to the appointment of such a respected and qualified Bermudian member of the Bar. Mr Hargun was appointed following a thorough, transparent and public competition run by the Committee, which comprises a number of notable Bermudians and prominent international legal minds.

“Like the Premier, I was consulted by the Governor in respect of Mr Hargun’s appointment, and I agreed with the recommendation of the Committee.The Committee was set up in order to bring transparency to the judicial appointment process, and to de-politicize what should be an apolitical role.

“For the Premier to make this a political football is irresponsible to the extreme. A mature democracy is governed by the separation of powers and the rule of law. An independent judiciary is key to upholding these important values. Attacks such as the Premier’s are aimed at having a chilling effect. Thankfully, our judiciary is robust and will continue to take decisions without fear or favour – no matter who forms the Government.
“I wish Mr Hargun the best as he takes up this critically important position.”