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Saturday 21 September 2019
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Court lets TV Jaagriti challenge CoP’s refusal to provide search warrant

Satnarayan Maharaj
Satnarayan Maharaj

After weeks of asking for a copy of the search warrant police said they relied on to search the offices of Central Broadcasting Services Ltd (CBSL), the radio and television station has filed legal proceedings in the High Court seeking compensation.

On Thursday, Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh granted CBSL leave to apply for judicial review of the refusal of the Commissioner of Police to provide it with a copy of the warrant.

CBSL is the parent company of TV and Radio Jaagriti.

The station is also seeking several declarations that the failure to disclose the warrant, and to only do so within legal proceedings, was illegal. It also wants an order compelling the commissioner to provide it with a copy of the warrant executed on April 18, and compensation.

In its application for leave, CBSL’s attorneys Jagdeo Singh, Dinesh Rambally, Kiel Taklalsingh and Stefan Ramkissoon accused the police of engaging in oppressive and high-handed execution of the search warrant.

The claim says the party of police, led by Insp Stanley, when they raided CBSL’s offices, waved a document claiming they had a search warrant to seize audiovisual footage from April 16. The lawsuit said at no time did Stanley or any of the officers say on what basis the warrant was issued, and requests by the station’s attorneys for a copy of the warrant, at the time of the search were denied.

The claim also said audiovisual footage was taken by police, and the station’s staff were courteous to the police, but were not shown the warrant to properly verify what was told to them by the officers.

The station also said its staff wrote to the commissioner seeking a copy of the warrant, but was told by the police director of legal services that neither the police’s standing orders nor the law required a copy of the warrant to be disclosed and it would only become disclosable in legal proceedings.

On April 18, nine police officers visited the station with a warrant under section 13 of the Sedition Act requesting recordings from April 16.

The action came days after a clip of Maha Sabha secretary general Sat Maharaj made disparaging comments on TV Jaagriti about Tobagonians. In the clip, which went viral on social media, Maharaj described Tobagonians as lazy people, more interested in racing crabs and goats and targeting white women to rob and rape them.

The station was also sanctioned by the Telecommunications Authority (TATT), finding the statements made by Maharaj to be “divisive and inciteful.” Legal proceedings have also been initiated against the authority.

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