Sat wins lawsuit against police

Sanatan Dhar­ma Ma­ha Sab­ha (SDMS) sec­re­tary gen­er­al Sat­narayan Ma­haraj and the or­gan­i­sa­tion's me­dia com­pa­ny Cen­tral Broad­cast­ing Ser­vices have won their law­suit over the re­fusal of the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS) to dis­close the war­rant used to search Ra­dio and TV Jaag­gri­ti, in April.

De­liv­er­ing a 28-page judge­ment at the Hall of Jus­tice in Port-of-Spain, this af­ter­noon, High Court Judge Ron­nie Boodoos­ingh up­held the ju­di­cial re­view law­suit brought by Ma­haraj and the com­pa­ny.


Boodoos­ingh ruled that the par­ties were en­ti­tled to chal­lenge the is­sue and that the TTPS's de­ci­sion was un­law­ful.

"The Claimant, act­ing through its of­fi­cers, is well en­ti­tled to see a copy of a war­rant un­der which its premis­es were searched," Boodoos­ingh said.

As part of the de­ci­sion, Boodoos­ingh gave Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith sev­en days to pro­vide a copy of the war­rant and have the orig­i­nal avail­able for in­spec­tion by Ma­haraj and the com­pa­ny's lawyers. The TTPS was al­so or­dered to pay the par­ties' le­gal costs for bring­ing the law­suit.

The war­rant was ex­e­cut­ed 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 are 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.

While no crim­i­nal charges have been brought against Ma­haraj and he sug­gest­ed that such was in­evitable while ad­dress­ing sup­port­ers dur­ing SDMS In­di­an Ar­rival Day cel­e­bra­tions.

When Ma­haraj and the com­pa­ny's lawyers first re­quest­ed a copy of the war­rant and threat­ened the law­suit, the TTPS's Di­rec­tor of Le­gal Ser­vices Chris­t­ian Chan­dler claimed that their le­gal chal­lenge over the process used to pro­cure the war­rant was mis­guid­ed.

A sec­ond war­rant was even­tu­al­ly ex­e­cut­ed on the com­pa­ny, last month.

Ma­haraj has al­so filed sep­a­rate le­gal pro­ceed­ings in which he is chal­leng­ing con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of this coun­try's colo­nial-age sedi­tion leg­is­la­tion.

In that 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, free­dom of the press and free­dom of as­so­ci­a­tion and as­sem­bly.

They stat­ed that Sec­tion 3 and 6 of the leg­is­la­tion, which de­fines a sedi­tious in­ten­tion and the pub­li­ca­tion of such, is un­pre­dictable and al­lows for dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Ma­haraj sought an in­junc­tion against Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions (DPP) Roger Gas­pard, SC, seek­ing to stop him (Gas­pard) from ap­prov­ing sedi­tion charges against him pend­ing the de­ter­mi­na­tion of his law­suit.

How­ev­er, he re­con­sid­ered his po­si­tion af­ter Gas­pard stat­ed that he had not yet been ap­proached for ad­vice on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Ma­haraj and the com­pa­ny are be­ing rep­re­sent­ed by Ramesh Lawrence Ma­haraj, SC, Jagdeo Singh, Di­nesh Ram­bal­ly, Kiel Tak­lals­ingh and Ste­fan Ramkissoon.

 - Derek Achong

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