Public Service Association (PSA) president Watson Duke wants his August 2019 sedition charge dropped in light of the ruling by justice Frank Seepersad earlier this week pronouncing sections 3 and 4 of the act to infringe on the rights of an individual.
“I have been a victim of bad justice…when we go to court, my attorneys are prepared to ask that this matter be dropped completely because the honourable Frank Seepersad ruled that the law is illegal. It is null, void, and has no effect,” Duke said in a press conference yesterday.
The sedition charge against Duke relates to statements on proposed layoffs at TSTT, T&TEC, and WASA, which he made in a press conference on November 16, 2018.
Duke reportedly said: “We must be prepared to die, folks, You know why? This is your belief, this is your family, and I am sending the message clear, let Rowley them know that the day they come for us in WASA, we are prepared to die and the morgue would be picking up people.”
But on Monday, Justice Seepersad struck down elements of this country’s colonial-age sedition legislation. He ruled that the legislation is vague, uncertain and can lead to arbitrary application.
He also ruled that the legislation is not compatible with a sovereign democratic state as it limits constitutional rights to freedom of thought and expression and freedom of the press.
The novel constitutional challenge was brought by former secretary-general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS), the late Satnarayan Maharaj, before his death in November, last year.
In the lawsuit, Maharaj’s lawyers contended that the legislation—which was passed in 1920 and amended several times between 1961 and 1976—breached citizens’ constitutional rights to freedom of thought and expression, freedom of the press and freedom of association and assembly.