THE Judge appointed to hear the matter involving members of the Highway Re-Route Movement, who are opposing the construction of the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the Solomon Hochoy Highway from Golconda to Point Fortin, revealed that his aunt is one of the residents directly affected.
Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh made the disclosure Tuesday when the lawsuit, filed against the State on August 3, came up for hearing for the first time in the Port of Spain High Court.
Boodoosingh told attorneys Rishi Dass and Anil Maraj, who are representing the claimants, and attorney Shastri Roberts, who is representing the State, that his mother's sister lives along Siparia Old Road where the highway is expected to pass.
He said while he hasn't given her any advice, he has been present at family gatherings where he heard his aunt say she will accept the compensation offered by Government to relocate.
Boodoosingh invited the attorneys to make legal submissions on his disclosure. He adjourned the matter to October 9.
Named as claimants on behalf of more than 600 residents are environmental activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh, Riaz Karim, Elizabeth Rambharose, Ramkaran Bhagwansingh, Malcolm Mohan and Ameena Mohammed, who are all members of the Highway Re-Route Movement.
They are also being represented by attorneys Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC, Fyard Hosein SC, and Vijaya Maharaj.
A declaration is being sought by Kublalsingh and others that the action and/or decision of National Security Minister Jack Warner to forcibly remove them from the protest camp at Debe and demolish it on June 27 was unlawful.
The court is also being asked to declare that the acceptance by the army and the police of Warner's instructions to demolish and remove the camp was illegal and that the doctrine of the separation of powers was breached.
The members of the Re-Route Movement say any decision to remove them and their protest camp could only have been lawfully made by the Commissioner for State Lands and only by an order from a magistrate or a judge...(only then) could they have been forcibly removed.
On behalf of the affected residents, the court is being asked to grant a conservatory order to stop the construction of the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the highway and to stay all notices served under the Land Acquisition Act pending the hearing and determination of the matter.
They are contending that their constitutional rights to life, security, enjoyment of property, to the protection of the law, to freedom of expression and freedom of association have all been contravened.
They say the Debe to Mon Desir segment is destructive and contrary to modern planning approaches to development and a proposal has been made for an alternative system of road development which, they contend, would result in the saving of 300 homes, 13 businesses, a temple, a church, a mosque and an orphanage.