Judge paves way for PM to be sued by south-based NGO’s

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Judge paves way for PM to be sued by south-based NGO’s

High Court Judge, Jacqueline Wilson, has granted a group of NGO’s leave to pursue a judicial review lawsuit against the Prime Minister and some of his Cabinet colleagues, over the planned construction of an apartment building at Todd Street, San Fernando.

The NGO’s include: the Krishna Mandir, the Shri Krishna Seva Trust Foundation, Stri Sevak Sabha Incorporated, and the Concerned Citizens For A Better San Fernando.

The State, represented by Russell Martineau, SC, said that the lawsuit was premature when it responded to the groups’ legal threat, late last year.

In the lawsuit, the groups are claiming Cabinet acted illegally and unreasonably when it changed the designation of the one-hectare parcel of land from institutional to residential and transferred the land to the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) for construction of approximately 72 apartment units.

Martineau did not object to the groups being granted permission to pursue the case as he noted that the threshold for such is low.

Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, who leads the legal team for the group, said his clients had to file the case as soon as they were informed of the Cabinet’s position on the project as they would have been precluded from pursuing the case based on delay.

After granting leave for the groups to pursue their case, Justice Wilson set deadlines for filing evidence submissions and reserved October 6th to hear oral submissions.

The groups’ lawyers claimed the decision to develop the land amounts to an abuse of power and is irrational based on valid objections.
They also claimed Dr Rowley and his colleagues failed to consider the noise pollution and traffic congestion that would be caused by the development.