Justice Frank Seepersad

BODY CAMERAS NEEDED: Justice Frank Seepersad

THE constitutionality of Trinidad and Tobago’s colonial-age sedition laws will be determined today by a High Court judge as the court delivers its ruling in a claim filed by secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) Sat Maharaj, who has since died, and SDMS media house Central Broadcasting Services Ltd.

Justice Frank Seepersad will deliver the ruling at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain this morning, following the completion of submissions in December.

The judge was being asked by attorneys representing Maharaj and Central Broadcasting Services to make a declaration that the sedition legislation breached the con­sti­tu­tion­al rights of citizens to free­dom of thought and ex­pres­sion, free­dom of the press, and free­dom of as­so­ci­a­tion and as­sem­bly.

Should the judge rule in Maharaj’s favour, it will bring an immediate halt to a preliminary enquiry against Watson Duke, president of the Public Services Association (PSA) who was charged with sedition in August of last year over state­ments he made dur­ing a protest at TSTT, in 2018.

Maharaj filed the novel constitutional claim after police, armed with a warrant, went to Central Broadcasting Services, after he made certain statements on his Maha Sabha Strikes Back programme on TV Jaagriti on April 15.

Maharaj stated that citizens living in Tobago were lazy and that the men were rapists.

Even though he had not been charged, Maharaj later suggested during an SDMS Indian Arrival Day celebration that a charge for sedition against him was inevitable.

Ma­haraj claimed that the leg­is­la­tion should be in­val­i­dat­ed as it is over­ly broad, vague and un­cer­tain. He claimed that the situation left cit­i­zens con­fused over whether they are in breach of the leg­is­la­tion.

Even though Maharaj died last November, the claim proceeded since Central Broadcasting Services was also a claimant in the matter.

Regardless of how the court rules, the decision is expected to be appealed.

Maharaj and Central Broadcasting are represented by Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, Jagdeo Singh, Di­nesh Ram­bal­ly, Kiel Tak­lals­ingh, Ste­fan Ramkissoon and Rhea Khan, while the Office of the Attorney General is represented by Fyard Hosein SC, Josephi­na Baptiste-Mo­hammed and Sean Julien.

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