The death of secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS), Satnarayan "Sat" Maharaj, would not affect the continuation of the constitutional challenge to the Sedition Act.
Attorney Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj said this was because the case was filed by both Sat and the Central Broadcasting Services Ltd (CBSL) which is the media house for Radio and TV Jaagriti. In addition, he said even if CBSL was not involved, a person’s estate could continue litigation.
Sat and CBSL filed a claim in the High Court seeking a declaration that sections three, four and 13 of the Sedition Act were unconstitutional because the wording was vague and uncertain and therefore of no effect. Ramesh said the “principal of legality” required that all laws, especially criminal laws that can override citizens fundamental rights, be clear and unambiguous. He said the ambiguous wording could criminalise all statements that were unpopular of the government and could infringe on said fundamental rights.
Ramesh said Sat took on the case for the national interest and the benefit of the public. “Obviously we would miss Mr Maharaj because he was the architect of the case in the sense that he believed that the matter was unconstitutional, that people were entitled to speech without having to be penalised in law unless there is a properly defined offence. So it is sad but the case would go on.”
Ramesh said Sat made “an indelible mark” on the country’s history as he was responsible for landmark judgements in TT including changing the nation’s highest award from the Trinity Cross to the Order of the Republic of TT, and fighting for the licenses for his radio and TV stations when he felt he was being discriminated against.
“He has not only been a leader in the Hindu community, he has made positive contributions to national development, he has stood up for the rights of people. He would be remembered also for challenging governments over the years in respect to issues which affected the Hindu Community as well as the people of TT.”
He said while the Hindu community lost a great fighter, TT lost a great warrior who fought for the rights of the people.
The sedition case is expected to be heard in the High Court on December 9.