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Tuesday 12 December 2017
Crime and Court

Judge blanks former Minister

Devant Maharaj. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI

A High Court judge has refused to grant a declaration against the National Security Minister for breach of his statutory duty to prepare annual reports under the Interception of Communications Act for four years.

Justice Frank Seepersad refused to grant the declaration to former government minister Devant Maharaj, saying Maharaj had been a member of Cabinet for the years 2012 to 2015 when the reports were not filed.

The judge also acknowledged that the filing of the reports was a continuous process and that the current minister failed to comply with the requirements of the Interception of Communication Act to file the reports in Parliament, until Maharaj’s application for judicial review had been filed in 2016.

Justice Seepersad had granted the former People’s Partnership minister the permission to pursue his claim against the State in which Maharaj contended the failure of the minister to comply with the statutory obligation was unlawful and illegal.

So far the reports for 2013, 2014, and 2015 have been filed and the 2012 report is to go before Cabinet this week after which it is expected to be filed in Parliament in the next three weeks.

In ruling against Maharaj, Justice Seepersad said there had been compliance so there was no need to issue declaratory relief.

He said it mattered not who the actors were but that the law had to be strictly followed and the evidence suggests that the current minister was seeking to rectify the problem. Attorney for the State, Russell Martineau, SC, in resisting the application for the declaration to be granted to Maharaj said it was ‘objectionable and offensive’ that the former minister was a member of the Cabinet which failed to comply with the statutory obligation.

The matter has been adjourned to November 27 and parties were directed to submit submissions on the question of cost.

Maharaj was yesterday represented by attorney Dinesh Rambally.

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