Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Aboud rules in favour of Re-Route Movement

...Clears the way for order to halt highway project

THE Highway Re-Route Movement (HRM) gained another minor victory against the State yesterday as it continues to challenge Government’s decision to carry on with construction work along the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the extension of the Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway to Point Fortin.

The latest ruling in favour of the HRM came from Justice James Aboud, at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain, as he granted the Movement’s attorneys permission to make their application for an interim conservatory order to halt work along the highway, despite the State asking for an adjournment of the matter.

It was the third ruling in the past month in favour of the HRM, which is led by environmentalist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh.

Last month, Aboud ruled against the State after it made an application asking that the judge recuse himself from the matter because he was the brother of environmentalist Gary Aboud.

Aboud’s ruling was challenged at the Court of Appeal and on Monday the appellate judges—Justices Allan Mendonca, Gregory Smith and Maureen Rajnauth-Lee—dismissed the appeal, agreeing with the judge’s decision to not step down.

The judges ruled that a mere biological relation between the judge and Gary Aboud was insufficient grounds for Justice Aboud to recuse himself.

It was based on that judgement that the State was seeking a temporary stay of yesterday’s proceedings, as it has the intention to file yet another application to challenge the Appeal Court’s ruling at the Privy Council in London, England. 

But senior counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj who, along with Fyard Hosein SC, is representing the HRM, said he was objecting to the request made by the State.

Maharaj said yesterday was the third occasion the Movement was scheduled to make the application and he would only agree to the adjournment if there was an undertaking by the State to halt work along the questionable portion of the highway, until the application can be made.

He said the Appeal Court ruled that the matter should continue to proceed before Aboud, and if the judge was to grant the adjournment then it would be contrary to the Court’s ruling.

Hosein added that if the adjournment was granted, then it would amount to an abuse of process.

After receiving the judge’s go-ahead to make the application, Maharaj made a two-hour submission, arguing the grounds on which the interim conservatory order should be granted.

He submitted that the property rights of members of the Movement were being trampled upon with the stance taken by the Government to move forward with the construction of the highway without abiding by recommendations of the Highway Review Committee.

“Should construction continue it will amount to a contravention to the rights of the residents,” said Maharaj.

The State is being represented by senior counsel Russell Martineau, Deborah Peake SC, Gerald Ramdeen, Kelvin Ramkissoon and Sashtri Roberts.

The matter will resume on Wednesday.