Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi says he is looking forward to the Privy Council weighing in on a constitutional challenge against this country’s colonial-aged sedition law.

In a press release issued following the decision by the Appeal Court to keep the law on Friday, Al-Rawi said he was pleased with the decision to uphold his office’s challenge against the lawsuit brought by former Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) secretary-general Satnarayan Maharaj, before his death in late 2019.

“The Attorney General encourages any action which will settle this area of law as it has deep significant consequences of the laws of Trinidad and Tobago,” Al-Rawi said.

“The matter has significant ramifications in relation to all other challenges against saved law,” Al-Rawi added.

The Court of Appeal Court partially reversed a High Court declaration in which it found that sections 3 and 4 of the Sedition Act, which came into effect in 1920, were unconstitutional as it infringed on the rights of citizens to freedom of expression, thought and freedom of the press.

Al-Rawi noted that the Sedition Act remains a valid law until the Privy Council eventually rules on the final appeal.

Maha Sabha attorney Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC says he will be contesting the ruling in the Privy Council over the next six to nine months. He said he is doing so because the sedition laws impede freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

Attorney Dinesh Rambally said the late Maharaj had given them instructions to carry the case to the Privy Council if the matter had failed in T&T’s lower courts. He said the fight against the sedition laws was initiated by Sat Maharaj to ensure citizens had the right to criticise governments without facing charges of sedition. He said Maharaj believed in cohesion and not divisiveness and knew that if the sedition laws remained, T&T would be heading down a dangerous path.