Sedition appeal hearing to be expedited

Attorneys for the Office of the Attorney General have agreed to an expedited hearing of an appeal of Justice Frank Seepersad’s ruling that this country’s sedition law was unconstitutional.

The agreement was made during the hearing of an application for a suspension of Seepersad’s ruling of January 13, in which he struck down sections 3 and 4 of the Sedition Act, which came into effect in 1920.

Hearing the application was Justice of Appeal Alice Yorke-Soo Hon, who reserved her decision on the suspension issue.

However, it was agreed by parties for the State and Vijay Maharaj, son of the late Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha secretary general Sat Maharaj, who successfully challenged the law.

One of the grounds for the suspension was the preliminary inquiry into sedition charges against Public Service Association (PSA) president Watson Duke. However, the sedition charge against Duke was dismissed on January 27.

Also facing a retrial for sedition is Jamaat al Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr, who was also at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain on Monday.

His attorneys are also seeking to have the sedition charge against him thrown out on the basis that he was facing a charge that is currently not a law.

The same basis was used for the dismissal of the charge against Duke by Chief Magistrate Maria Busby Earle-Caddle.

Soo Hon adjourned her ruling on the suspension, while also doing same on Bakr’s application for a discharge was Justice Maria Wilson.

Bakr appeared before Wilson for a case management hearing of his matter.

In 2012, Bakr was ordered to face a retrial after jurors were unable to decide on a verdict.

In his ruling on Maharaj’s lawsuit on January 13, Seepersad held that the Sedition Act was “vague, uncertain and can lead to arbitrary application.”

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