Lawyers representing Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) secretary general Satnarayan Maharaj have filed for an injunction seeking to block the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) from instituting sedition charges against him pending the determination of his novel constitutional challenge against this country’s colonial-age sedition legislation.
Maharaj’s lawyers filed the injunction application yesterday, after DPP Roger Gaspard, SC, failed to respond to several requests over the issue, last week.
In the application, Maharaj is contending that the High Court has the power to make orders to protect the rights of citizens pending the determination of their lawsuits over their fundamental constitutional rights.
The application is expected to be heard by High Court Judge Frank Seepersad at 1 pm today. Maharaj’s most recent request for a stay of criminal charges came hours after police executed a second search warrant at the compound of the SDMS’s media company Central Broadcasting Services, last Thursday.
The first was executed in April after Maharaj made a series of incendiary statements on his Maha Sabha Strikes Back programme on TV Jaagriti on April 15. Maharaj claimed that citizens living in Tobago were lazy and labelled the men as rapists. The Telecommunications Authority of T&T (TATT) issued a warning to Maharaj and the company over the comments, which is now being challenged by them in a separate lawsuit. Maharaj and the company have also initiated legal proceedings against the T&T Police Service (TTPS) over failing to disclose the warrant used for the search.
In a constitutional motion lawsuit, Maharaj’s lawyers are claiming that the legislation, which was passed in 1920 and amended several times, between 1961 and 1976, breached citizens’ constitutional rights to freedom of thought and expression, freeadom of the press and freedom of association and assembly.
Reporter: Derek Achong