Local government election injunction reaches appeal court

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Political activist Ravi Balgobin-Maharaj. –

THREE Appeal Court judges are to decide on an injunction application filed by political activist Ravi Balgobin-Maharaj to prevent local government councillors and aldermen from continuing in office for another year.

On Monday, Justices of Appeal Prakash Moosai, Gillian Lucky and James Aboud began hearing submissions from Balgobin-Maharaj’s attorney in his challenge of the refusal of Justice Jacqueline Wilson’s refusal to grant the injunction as part of his challenge to the Local Government Reform Act, which contains amendments to the Municipal Corporations Act.

They will continue hearing submissions on Tuesday.

Passed by a simple majority in 2022, the act allowed local government elections to be delayed by a year, which the government has said it wants to do.

Balgobin-Maharaj had asked the court to restrain all councillors and aldermen elected in the December 2, 2019, local government elections from acting beyond December 3, 2022.

Alternatively, he wanted the offices of all councillors and aldermen declared vacant from December 4. Wilson ruled that the least irreparable harm would be to refuse the injunction because of the range of services provided by aldermen and councillors and the potential impact of their disruption if she granted it.

She said local government corporations played an important role in providing services to the public, and it did not follow that there would be adverse consequences if they were allowed to continue in office beyond the three months after their term ends. Local government elections were constitutionally due between December 2022 and March 2023, however, the partial proclamation of local government reform legislation allowed for the extension of the terms of councillors and aldermen to four years. Although she refused the injunction, in assessing the merits of Balgobin-Maharaj’s main complaint, Wilson agreed there was a serious issue to be tried.

Monday and Tuesday were set aside for the hearing of the substantive lawsuit but Monday’s hearing did not take place as the preliminary issue of the injunction application was being heard in the Appeal Court.

Representing Balgobin-Maharaj are Anand Ramlogan, SC, Jayanti Lutchmedial, Renuka Rambhajan and Vishaal Sieusarran. Douglas Mendes, SC, Rishi Dass and Anala Mohan appear for the Cabinet and local government minister.