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Court rules: UNC candidate can contest election


Trinidad Express / THE United National Congress’ (UNC) candidate for the electoral district of Munroe Road/Caroni Savannah, in the Chaguanas Borough Corporation, has been given the all clear by a High Court judge to contest the seat in tomorrow’s local government election.

This came after the judge dismissed a judicial review application which was filed by the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) challenging the eligibility of the candidate, Adrian Shazad Ali, claiming that he was not properly registered in accordance with the Registration Rules.

It was struck out by Justice Ricky Rahim during a special sitting at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain today. Justice Rahim stated in a 21-page judgment that the ILP’s claim had no reasonable prospect for success if the application were to be granted. The application was filed by ILP executive member Sunil Ramjitsingh on behalf of Simeon Mahabir, the party’s candidate for the same electoral district.

The judge stated that ordinarily the court would not deliver written reasons for decisions on applications for permission to file for judicial review but has chosen to do so in this case for two reasons.

“Firstly, it is in the public’s interest that the reasons be provided prior to the taking of the poll and secondly, the court wants to ensure that all parties have recourse to the court’s reasons should any of them decide to exercise their right of appeal prior to the election which takes place tomorrow, said the judge.

Last Wednesday, the ILP filed the application against the Election and Boundaries Commission (EBC) claiming that Ali is not resident to the address which he gave the Returning Officer on nomination day earlier this month and was therefore ineligible to contest the seat.

Ali had stated that his address was #41B Clarke Road, Charlieville. But “investigations” carried out by the ILP revealed that Ali was ordinarily resident at #69 Mon Plaisir Road, Cunupia. The ILP claimed that following the discovery, it wrote to the EBC requesting that Ali be disqualified, but no action was taken.

The application was heard on Friday at the San Fernando High Court with documents such as company forms and utility bills which showed the differences in addresses being relied upon by the ILP to bolster its arguments. However, Justice Rahim stated that in the court’s view, the material facts provided and those which were reasonably likely to be provided if permission was granted, “fall way short of that required to displace the presumption.”

 “The mere fact that different addresses have been stated on company forms and a WASA bill is grossly insufficient in the court’s view even assuming that other evidence of residence is likely to become available. A court can reasonably conclude that certain evidence is likely to become available but it ought not to go beyond the bounds of what is reasonable and speculate.

“The applicant is unable in that regard to demonstrate that the interested party (Ali) was not properly registered in keeping with the Registration Rules which appear to accept that an applicant for registration may have more than one place of residence and is permitted an option as to his registration,” said Rahim.

Representing the UNC were Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, and Gerald Ramdeen while leader of the ILP Rekha Ramjit appeared for her party. Senior Counsel Deborah Peake and Ravi Heffes-Doon appeared for the EBC.

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