Appeal court defers ruling in lawsuit over Local Gov’t extension to month end

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Appeal court defers ruling in lawsuit over Local Gov’t extension to month end

A decision in the lawsuit over Government’s move to extend the term of local government representatives by a year will be made month end.

The suit was filed by political activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj.
Maharaj is challenging the decision of High Court Judge Jacqueline Wilson to reject his injunction application in late November last year.

On Tuesday, Appellate Judges Prakash Moosai, Gillian Lucky, and James Aboud reserved their decision in Maharaj’s case after hearing submissions from his lawyers and those representing the Cabinet and Rural Development and Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi.
“It is a far-reaching case and is fairly complicated,” Justice Aboud said.

Justice Wilson was initially scheduled to hear the substantive issues raised by Maharaj’s lawyers this week but the parties agreed that the Court of Appeal should hear and determine the entire case as opposed to only considering whether the injunction should be granted.

This means that in the event that Maharaj’s case is rejected by the Appeal Court, he will have to consider filing a final appeal to the Privy Council.

Senior Counsel Anand Ramlogan, who led Maharaj’s legal team, claimed citizens had a constitutional right to decide on their local government representatives every three years. He said such elections began in the 1940s and continued after the country gained Independence.

He claimed that if Maharaj lost the case and the Government was allowed to proceed with the change, it may be empowered to similarly extend the terms of MPs.

However, Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes, who led the State’s legal team, claimed the legislation specifically indicated that it would affect councillors and aldermen who were elected in the last local government election in 2019.
Maharaj is seeking a series of declarations against the move and an order quashing it.