Attorney General Faris Al Rawi has described as “a schoolboy jaunt” the challenge by attorney Jagdeo Singh for him (the AG) to personally argue the State’s appeal of a high court ruling on the Sedition Act.
“That’s a school boy jaunt. Respectfully, it’s a school boy equation,” Al Rawi told reporters on Tuesday night as he attended Presentation College’s (his alma mater) all-inclusive fete launch at 519 Restaurant and Lounge, C3 Mall.
The State has appealed Justice Frank Seepersad’s ruling that sections 3 and 4 of the Act infringed on the right of citizens to freedom of thought and expression, the right to join political parties and express political views and freedom of the press.
The judge ruled in favour of a challenge filed by the late Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) general secretary Satnarayan Maharaj on behalf of his television and radio station, Jaagriti, and parent company – Central Broadcasting Services Ltd. The AG is seeking to have the appellate court suspend Seepersad’s decision. Singh, one of the attorneys for Central Broadcasting Services, in a media conference last Friday at Maha Sabha headquarters in St Augustine, challenged Al Rawi as titular head of the bar, to put on his robes and come to the Court of Appeal and argue this appeal himself. He accused Al Rawi of hiding behind the robes of other lawyers hired to fight the state’s appeal.
“That’s a schoolboy jaunt. Jagdeo Singh is calling for me to stop parliamentary duties, to stop all of the 1,900 employees we manage, stop managing 19 bodies of state to come and meet him in a sedition case,” Al Rawi asked. He also debunked Singh’s statement that he (AG) had described Seepersad’s ruling as “dangerous.”
“Let me make it abundantly clear, I never said the judgement was dangerous. If you look at the record you will see that I was very careful to say it is dangerous to leave it without appeal because it tackles the savings law clause.”
“Mr Singh saw it fit, as did Mr Maharaj (attorney Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC) to address a school auditorium and call out a schoolboy challenge.
“The Government has a lot more important work to do than to pick up a schoolboy challenge. It’s important just to get the business right,” he said. Former attorneys general including John Jeremie and Anand Ramlogan have argued on behalf of the state in court matters. According to the notice of appeal, the State has identified 21 areas of Seepersad’s judgment and will argue that he erred in law in several of his findings by wrongly defining issues for consideration and determination.
Since the ruling, minority leader of the THA and PSA president Watson Duke, also facing a charge under the Sedition Act, has called for his matter to be quashed.
Former policeman Michael Seales was once on a sedition charge but that matter was subsequently dismissed.