THE constitutional claim filed by Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) leader Satnarayan Maharaj challenging the lawfulness and constitutionality of certain provisions of the Sedition Act Chapter 11.04 will go to trial on December 9.
The trial date was fixed when the matter came up for hearing at a pre-trial review before Justice Frank Seepersad in the Port of Spain High Court yesterday.
Directions were also given for Maharaj and the Central Broadcasting Services Ltd (CBSL), of which he is the managing director, to file a supplemental affidavit in the case which they will solely rely on at the trial.
Written submissions are to be filed in October and November, as directed by the judge.
The High Court action specifically challenges sections 3, 4 and 13 of the act, which Maharaj claims are vague, uncertain and therefore illegal. Section 3 sets out what is considered a seditious act, while section 4 sets out the particulars of the offences and section 13 deals with search warrants.
Maharaj and CBSL claim their rights to enjoyment of property, freedom of thought and expression, and freedom of the press and to express political views, among others, are being infringed by the legislation, which they are seeking to have the High Court strike down as “undemocratic” laws.
Maharaj previously sought to have Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard hold his hand on laying sedition charges against him, but this was not pursued after the DPP wrote to Maharaj's attorneys, saying police had not yet asked him to consent to any charges being laid against the religious leader under the Sedition Act.
Maharaj and CBSL are represented by Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj and attorneys Jagdeo Singh, Dinesh Rambally, Kiel Taklalsingh, Stefan Ramkissoon, Kavita Roop-Boodoo and Rhea Khan, while the Attorney General is represented by Fyard Hosein, SC, and Josephina Baptiste-Mohammed.