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10 years on, no redress over radio licence

Published: 
Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hinduism and Hindus in general have a tradition in the institution of law that stretches back more than 2,500 years. Some history books have said that the Manu Smriti, ordinances of Manu is the foundation work of Hindu law and ancient Indian society. Some describe the Manu Smriti as the first codification of law and that ancient Roman law benefitted from this codification.

 

Free encyclopedia writes: “they contain laws, rules and codes of conduct by individuals, communities and nations. Some of these laws codify the Hindu system… Though widely quoted, especially by the British of India, as the law book of the Hindus, it must be noted that Hinduism is a none uniform religion without any central dogma codification.”   

 

Smritis mean “That which has to be remembered.” Unlike the Vedas which are considered of divine origin, the Smritis are of human compositions which guide individuals in their daily conduct according to time and place. They list the codes and rules governing the actions of the individual, the community, society and the nation.

 

When the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha was incorporated by Act of Parliament No 41 of 1952, the Hindu community in Trinidad was fortunate to have the services of two legally qualified Hindus. Mr Simboonath Capildeo had moved residence from “Lion House” Chaguanas, to No 17 Luis Street in Port-of-Spain and Mr Seeloochan “Babsie” Doolsingh had migrated from Cedros to his home at Cotton Hill in Port-of-Spain.

 

Mr Capildeo was deeply involved in the administration of the Maha Sabha while Doolsingh offered his legal services as a gift to the community. With these legal personalities’ help, we were able as early as 1952 to create and establish the rules by which we govern our affairs. This collection of rules is contained in “the constitution of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha.”

 

We wish to draw attention to rule (3D): “To carry on educational work establishing and maintaining schools, colleges training colleges, and other educational institutions, and to affiliate any such institutions already established, so as to achieve the aims and objectives of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha of Trinidad and Tobago Inc.” And at rule (3R): “to uphold the rule of law in support of the principles of Sanatan Dharma.”

 

Because of these guiding principles, the Maha Sabha has from time to time resorted to the courts of the land to seek justice and to establish clearly the “rule of law.” More than ten years ago, we challenged the state over the non-granting a radio licence. We charged that a supporter of the ruling party was given preference to the Maha Sabha whose application was ahead of Citadel Ltd. We invited both the court of first instance, and the Appeal Court (twice) to order the Cabinet to issue us a licence. They both declined.

 

When they both did not grant our request, we appealed to the Privy Council in England. In fact one local judge described our request to “order” the Cabinet to grant a licence as obscene. The Privy Council, however, ruled: “It is through no fault of the Court of Appeal and highly regrettable that the Court of Appeal was allowed to proceed on false premises. It is in the light of exceptional circumstances not revealed to the Court of Appeal that the Board concludes that the appeal should be allowed.

 

“As in Observer Publications Ltd V Matthew, so here the Board considers that the only appropriate order is a mandatory order, in this case ordering the Attorney General to do all that is necessary to procure and ensure the issue forthwith to the appellant, Central Broadcasting System Limited (CBSL), of a FM radio broadcasting licence, as applied for on 1st September 2000, on an appropriate frequency to be agreed with CBSL or, in default of agreement, to be determined by the High Court on application by either party.”

 

This highest Court in the land further ruled: “The Attorney General must pay the appellants’ cost in the courts below and before the Board.” The Maha Sabha has decided to again approach the court in connection with the decision of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), not to prosecute in the “referral by the Integrity Commission of the report into the investigation, into the discriminatory award to Citadel Ltd in priority to the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha.”

 

In his letter to the Maha Sabha’s attorney Mr Jagdeo Singh on March 1, 2013, one of the reasons the DPP gives for not prosecuting states: “It is an established fact in the public domain that Mr Manning has recently suffered two strokes having had heart surgery and now lives with a pacemaker. He has been absent from Parliament for over 13 months.

 

 

If a suspect is suffering from significant ill health, this is a factor that could influence whether a prosecution should proceed, especially if the offence is not likely to be repeated. In the instant matter there is no compliant nor is there any suggestion or evidence that it was.”

 

Judicial Review proceedings have been filed in the High Court, Port-of-Spain.