Govt to pay Maha Sabha $3M for radio licence delay

By Sacha Wilson
Published: 23 Sep 2009 – guardian.co.tt

Satnarayan MaharajThe State has to pay the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, which operates Central Broadcasting Services Ltd, close to $3 million in damages for its unequal treatment and delay in granting them a FM radio broadcasting licence.

Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh awarded compensatory and vindicatory damages yesterday by way of a video conference at the San Fernando High Court.

This was the end result of a eight-year legal battle between the Maha Sabha and the State regarding the granting of a licence for Radio Jagriti 102.7 FM. Boodoosingh said this case showed discrimination “plain and simple.”

He said: “The award was meant primarily to deter public authorities and persons exercising public functions from engaging in or persisting with unequal treatment.” Expressing his satisfaction with the sum, the Maha Sabha’s general secretary Satnarayan Maharaj called on the State to show good faith and ensure that those who discriminated against the Hindu community and the Maha Sabha were prosecuted.
Full Article : guardian.co.tt

Govt to pay SDMS $2.6m
Court orders compensation for discrimination

Refusal of radio licence to Maha-Sabha costs State $3M
FOR failing to grant the Maha Sabha a radio licence, a High Court judge yesterday ordered the State to pay the Hindu organisation almost $3 million.

Sat satisfied; Lee Sing calls it an error
Secretary General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) is pleased with the million-dollar award. Citadel’s chairman and co-owner, Louis Lee Sing, said he felt the courts had erred and he was the one discriminated against in the matter.

Trinidad and Tobago News Blog’s URL for this article:
www.trinidadandtobagonews.com/blog/?p=1628

16 Responses to “Govt to pay Maha Sabha $3M for radio licence delay”


  • Without getting into specifics of this case one must take a moment to wonder if this verdict warrants such a high penalty!
    The claim of discrimination in T&T has lost authenticity and may be the domain of one class of people. It appears that when these people dont get what they want it is always discrimination. Does the judgement has fairness in law or is the judge using judicial activism to vindicate his personal preference?
    If the ruling is right then the judgement is wrong? It is too high a price to pay for a subjective case such as this.

  • “The Court of Appeal also found there was unequal treatment. The Maha Sabha sought further redress at the Privy Council. The Judicial Committee ruled, on July 4, 2006, that the State had discriminated against the Maha Sabha and held that its constitutional right to freedom of expression was violated.

    The Privy Council ordered the State to grant the licence to the Maha Sabha forthwith. But the Maha Sabha was not awarded the licence until September 22 that year.”

    The government was wrong. They also snubbed the court’s ruling that the state must grant the license to the Maha Sabha forthwith. It is unfortunate that tax payers, who are being called on to pay more property tax, have to pay for the government’s biases.

  • What a country… An org. whose premise is based on discrimination, ‘varna sanatana dharma’, has access to the public airwaves… and now the taxpayers has to pay this org. (that only a brahmin can become a priest) $3m.
    I guess now many of our Indo. writer will be pointing fingers…. but how many of them will try to defend or even discuss the MS and their admiration of the Hindu Caste System?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KI2moTLbx_M&feature=youtube_gdata

  • There is nothing “inclusive” about the Maha Saba. By it’s own premise the organization in terms of it’s public perception is one which operates as a discriminatory organzation because it does not have the Country or citizeny’s interest at heart. It has the interest of the Hindu at heart but definitely NOT the Country. When the term “public” is used we must be careful that it is not used in a discriminatory manner and the Maha Saba definitely will be using it’s radio broadcast to do that. Anyone and everyone has access to 95.5fm but only the Hindu’s interest is being served by the broadcast of the MS radio station. The Privy Council’s ruling is correfct in the sense that in a democracy all must be given access but in terms of it’s local application the MS is definitely a discriminating force that promotes divisive and vitriolic politics and in that sense cannot be seen as one who is harmed by the word “discrimination”.

  • I remember when the Indo Cartel attempted to corner the T&T music industry with dem Kiskadee records.. Technology rendered them ineffective.. Left them with a multi million dollar recording studio (museum) called Caribbean Basin Sounds. And yes, the Don Dole Chadee was present at the caravans to hear Shadow sing.
    Buh anyway, these government licensed radio stations are no longer effective in this world of the Iphone. It’s about content to compete in this new worldwide media market. And for sure the world is waiting for the BROTHERS from the land of Kwame Ture, Sylvester Williams, Herbert Jullian….. among others to voice their views.

    Aye, Mr. Kangal, state your caste and come talk to we bout Hinduism nah man! Ah doh kno why allyuh does resist from sharing y’all Hindu World View in an interactive forum.

    http://www.trinidadandtobagonews.com/selfnews/viewnews.cgi?newsid1102262476,91526,.shtml

  • I really do not get how you are trying to link Amar’s ventures to this issue. It is a good thing I was around during the heights of Robert Amar’s music adventures because your comment here could paint a rather distorted picture of his activities.

    Amar was not part of any organized group of Indians who were racially motivated to do anything. If anything, he tried to distance himself from his Indian culture which really worked against him. He never demonstrated any real respect for Indian, African and other forms of indigenous culture. In my view, he wanted to be accepted like the White business elites in Trinidad and Tobago and having been rejected from their circles, he set out to rival them in several adventures… and failed. The location of the studio on Long Circular Road was to make a statement towering over the White elite country club.

    Having inherited from his father’s estate, he wanted to show that he could build something on his own outside of his father’s empire and inheritance. He liked the glamour of the music industry so he ventured there. He actually felt the studio was his accomplishment outside of his father’s achievements. I once told him that he was using funds from his inheritance to build the studio so I doubt the studio could be considered his personal accomplishment.

    I was around for the Kiskadee Caravan and although Robert Amar wanted to establish himself as a serious player in the local music industry, his team of accountants, engineers, and artists were not predominantly Indian or even Indian oriented. Robert never projected himself as a Hindu or an adherent to any cultural values other than capitalism and ‘stupidity’. Obviously, he still has the Hindu caste system influences from his upbringing although he appeared to be rejecting Indian culture.

    The Caribbean Sound Basin studio investment was done badly. He paid way too much to construct the studio and it was badly equipped. People do not fully equip several studios in a multi-studio complex without securing contracts for the use of the equipment. Much of the equipment became obsolete before they got much use.

    His efforts, as misguided as some of us thought they were, contributed to the musical landscape of Trinidad and Tobago. He also has a radio station.

    I never knew Robert and Dole Chadee to be friends and even if they were, I do not see the reason for you mentioning that Dole Chadee was present at the caravans (very popular public events) other than to paint an especially sinister picture of Robert.

  • Negro please, my father always said, “show me your company and I will tell you are”. Do some research on the Don links with yuh ‘fren’… Dole Chadee was a respectable ‘capitalist’ in South too (for gullible negroids), And hear dem, “yuh know he father used to eat bagie and rice everyday to make sure his children have”.
    Anyway, don’t you find it strange that not a NEGRO from the ‘Syrian Cartel’ (yes ah said it) newspaper will comment on this issue. Their arses are bought.. They can be had for a Red Solo and a small serving of bus-up-shot. As for the government.. that’s too much typing at this hour.

  • Negro please, my father always said, “show me your company and I will tell you are”.

    Is that “Negro” bit a new slang or is it meant to be disrespectful?

    Do you believe that quote “show me your company and I will tell you are” means that if we are acquainted with different people then somehow we are like them? Is it that Africans should never talk to Indians or tell the truth about what we know of our interactions with them? I talk to different people all the time and that does not necessarily make them friends or enemies. They could simply be acquaintances.

    Maybe you have something worthwhile to say but so far, I am not getting it. How about writing a comprehensive article about what you feel the other media are not addressing and email it to the site.

    On this issue with the Maha Saba and their radio license, the government handled this affair badly (to say the least) and I am perturbed that, once again, I have to pay for the government’s poor judgment.

    The actions of this government are costing ordinary people on all sides.

  • Rev. Wright, keeps ringing in my head, “sick amd tired of Negros that just don’t get it”.
    What’s the deal with Afro Trinbagonians.. When did they become handicap?
    What makes you think ‘we’ needed Amar’s assistance to promote OUR music?
    You think every smiling face is a friend… Its call business man.
    With all the disrespect Indians dish out on African people in T&T, the Gods said no to Amar.
    Now, Mr. Kangal, you really hurt my feelings with the good English response.. Yuh know how we ‘Black people’ full of pride… Ent? So did that mean yuh din understand a word I said…. not even WHAT IS YOUR CASTE BOY?

  • Costs of discrimination

    trinidadexpress.com

    On the basis of the Privy Council ruling that the constitutional rights of the Maha Sabha had been violated, the High Court recently made an order assessing damages to the Hindu organisation. In making the award of almost $3 million the learned judge is reported to have observed that it was a case of unexplained and unjustifiable discrimination in refusing Maha Sabha a radio licence, the issuance of which is supposedly a relatively simple exercise in any free and open society. Surely the Maha Sabha, like all the then-licence holders, must have been able to meet all the licence requirements, especially given the size of its targeted base.

    Here, once again, we have an instance where the public is to bear the cost of unexplained and unacceptable decisions by the executive branch, in this case a breach of fundamental constitutional rights that ministers openly swear to uphold.

    In this particular case the Privy Council also observed that Government had deliberately misled the High Court. We cannot accept this as a mere lapse of procedures such as failing to gazette the appointment of the Commission of Enquiry into the construction industry. It had all the marks of a deliberate attempt to deny a group of citizens their constitutional rights while favouring one of the ruling party’s supporters.

    But must this compensation award really be the end of the matter? Section 24, Part IV of the Integrity in Public Life Act 2000, is part of the Code of Conduct applicable to all persons in public life and exercising public functions. It states without ambiguity that those persons (a) be fair and impartial in exercising their public duty, and (b) afford no undue preferential treatment to any group or individual. Some three years ago after the Privy Council ruling on the matter formal complaints were made to the Integrity Commission, then headed by John Martin, about a breach of this section of the act.

    Most citizens will interpret the Privy Council ruling as finding that the person or persons making the adverse decision had acted unfairly toward the Maha Sabha and gave preferential treatment to Citadel Ltd. Can there really be any other conclusion but that there was a gross breach of the Code of Conduct?

    Section 31 of the same Code of Conduct makes it mandatory for the Integrity Commission to report any breach to the appropriate House of Parliament etc, in this case both the House of Representatives as well as the Senate, given that Cabinet is collectively responsible for the decision. It is now some three years since the formal complaints were made. President Richards, you have a solemn duty to see that this breach of law does not continue to fester. Appoint the Integrity Commission.

    http://www.trinidadexpress.com/index.pl/article_opinion?id=161536757

  • “Most citizens will interpret the Privy Council ruling as finding that the person or persons making the adverse decision had acted unfairly toward the Maha Sabha and gave preferential treatment to Citadel Ltd. Can there really be any other conclusion but that there was a gross breach of the Code of Conduct?” This statement by the Trinidad Express however well intended should not be short sighted in its scope. We live in a capitalist democracy in which ‘money is king’ and if this case is continued to be viewed as Citadel vs Maha Saba license approval, any right thinking citizen will be correct in assuming that Citadel’s broadcast serves the greater community and NOT just a part of the community as the Maha Saba does. Should they be granted a license to operate based on its own merit? Yes, providing all of the requirements are met but to compare consumerism vs religious indoctrination in a consumer oriented society, then the govt was right. What is wrong about this case is the consideration of two separate issues condensed into one. On one hand is the case of whether MS is qualified to hold a license and the other is Citadel getting a license (presumably because it is friendly to the government). In the first scenario MS can stand on it’s own but the second is purely subjective on the part of those issuing the judgements (if consumerism vs religious indoctrination is considered). There can be no doubt that 95.5 fm serves all the people whilst MS radio is geared toward a fraction of the population that is either opposed to the government or partial towards its religious brand. This ‘discrimination’ is subjective and not objective.

  • L. Logan,

    I am taking issue with parts of your comment:

    “any right thinking citizen will be correct in assuming that Citadel’s broadcast serves the greater community and NOT just a part of the community as the Maha Saba does.”

    Many people, without giving the above-mentioned much thought, would agree with you but there are several things wrong with that statement.

    If people are of the opinion that the Maha Saba is a racist organization that is detrimental to the society, then they should be arguing for the state to outlaw them or at least not to grant them state funds for their projects.

    If people are of the view that the Maha Saba is racist because it looks after the interest of ‘the Indian community’ then they are wrong. That would not be a fair basis for dismissing them or for assuming that some other outfit like Citadel, that does not adequately address Indian or African culture, caters more to the wellbeing of the wider society and should be given greater consideration. The Carib community organizations cannot be considered less important or racist because they work predominantly to uplift Caribs.

    I am part of an African development outfit that is mostly geared towards the development of African people. This does not mean that we are against other people. But because pertinent history and perspectives from an African point of view are casually dismissed or not given space in the mainstream media, and by extension the wider society, we are working to fill that niche.

    It is my view that all the mainstream media and education are flawed and racist by virtue of their neglect of African history together with the impact that slavery and colonialism has on Africans and others as well. People developed and, to this day, maintain attitudes of superiority and inferiority based on our sordid history.

    Media and cultural organizations that are geared towards developing awareness of our diverse cultural heritage serve a valuable function and should not be considered less important than outfits that pretend we are operating on a level playing field or feel that the issues of Race and negative discriminations are behind us.

    If the PNM government was not continually giving token support to the Indian community but instead paid attention to what the Maha Saba was preaching years gone by, they would have had a valid reason for not granting them a license. But the government never addressed the racism in what they were teaching to Indians and continued to give them space in the state media to propagate their brand of religion and funding for some of their projects.

    The government does not have a valid argument for not granting them a license, especially as they hurriedly granted one to their party hack Louis Lee Sing who owns Citadel. Lee Sing was also known for his anti-African statements in the past (not too sure how he is today as I do not listen to his radio station).

    This is another flawed point in my view:

    “Yes, providing all of the requirements are met but to compare consumerism vs religious indoctrination in a consumer oriented society, then the govt was right.”

    The government did not advance the arguments that you are making, and if they did, I would have challenged them. Not because Trinidad and Tobago follows the capitalist model that was handed to us from a colonial history should it be accepted as the standard by which we all should live. Some of us have concluded that consumerism (attachment to materialistic values or possessions) is a contributory factor in the decadence of the society. Therefore, any society with so many social ills should be encouraging organisations that could instill a sense of moral values in its people. I am not agreeing that the Maha Saba does this, but given the failure of the state to show how they are not, they cannot give justification for how they treated them.

    I also disagree with this other point:

    “What is wrong about this case is the consideration of two separate issues condensed into one. On one hand is the case of whether MS is qualified to hold a license and the other is Citadel getting a license (presumably because it is friendly to the government).”

    The government acted in haste in granting a license to Louis Lee Sing who applied long after the Maha Saba. They did not give the Maha Saba a reason for not granting them a license. The government appeared to ignore them and when Lee Sing wanted a license they quickly granted it. People should consider how the government acted in haste in regards to their party member (Lee Sing) while not addressing the license for the Maha Saba (that is not known to support the PNM). Juxtaposing the two was quite valid to show discrimination. The bias there should have been obvious to any right thinking person. The government should have set criteria for granting licenses and they should just work with that and avoid the political patronage that contributes to corrupt politics in Trinidad and Tobago.

    I also disagree with this:

    “There can be no doubt that 95.5 fm serves all the people whilst MS radio is geared toward a fraction of the population that is either opposed to the government or partial towards its religious brand.”

    In my view, 95.5 fm does not serve all the people in Trinidad and Tobago. They do not serve my interest and they are not geared for that. I would not rely on them for international news and opinions and I definitely would not turn to them for a fair perspective on how issues affect African and Indian communities. I do not believe that 95.5 fm should be given any greater consideration than other media – even that of the Maha Saba.

  • Heru,
    Yours was a thoughtful and fair rebuttal to my thoughts but I do maintain that pulling a figure of $3.5m from a hat and calling it a judgement for ‘discrimination’ is cowboy justice. I do not claim to have the facts of the case to understand what government did and why they did it. I do know and read what Sat Maharaj writes in the Guardian and other forums and there is nothing in his writings that pays any respect to his fellow African Trinidadian. How can one be disciminated against who himself practices and preach discrimination? Sat is the embodiment of that organization and while I have not said that I am against the organization getting a license I am perturbed about the the ‘discrimination’ charge. Call it political victimization or whatever but I do ;have a problem with ‘discrimination’ because it is what that organization built its notoriety on.

  • I am not sure of the exact figure the Maha Saba was awarded. I think the various reports put it at close to $3m, of which $500.000 was for vindicatory damages. On September 23, the Express stated: “In a 36-page judgment delivered yesterday, Justice Boodoosingh calculated the projected profitability of the radio station had it been granted the licence in 2001.” The Maha Saba fought the case all the way to the Privy Council so their lawyers’ fees would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Frankly, I have no problem with the sum awarded.

    Here is another quote from the Express:

    “Among the reasons cited for awarding the millions was Cabinet’s “unexplained and unjustified discrimination in favour of Citadel Ltd”, a company co-owned by PNM party supporter Louis Lee Sing.”

    The government did not even bother to offer a reason for its actions and more or less left the court with little choice than to rule the way it did. The fault here is that of the government.

    I also think that Sat Maharaj is a racist. But because one is racist does not mean that one cannot experience racial discrimination. As a matter of fact, I do not believe that Sat Maharaj is any more racist than many people in Trinidad and Tobago who mostly maintain anti-African prejudices. Sat Maharaj is very public with his views, so there is the illusion that he is more extreme than others.

    Given the way people are, they are more likely to recognize when someone is discriminating against them and not when they are doing it to others.

    For example, dark skin Indians experience color discrimination within the Indian community and some experience racism from Africans, but they can still be racist towards Africans. Also, Africans can experience racism but can still perpetuate racism against Indians and even other Africans. Colour discrimination (known as Colorism) is prevalent both among Africans and Indians and both groups do experience racism. The point I am making is that many people are both victims and perpetrators of racism. We usually focus on the folks who are most affected by it, but that does not mean they are all free of guilt themselves.

    The term ‘discrimination’ has different connotations and does not only apply to racial discrimination. There is class, color, gender, political, employment, disability, size and other forms of discrimination. It is mostly in the US (and all who are so influenced) that the term ‘discrimination’ is mostly used to mean racial discrimination.

    An online definition of ‘discrimination’ is:
    “treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit: racial and religious intolerance and discrimination.”

    From what I have read on this matter, among the reasons cited for the size of the award was the “unexplained and unjustified discrimination in favour of Citadel Ltd”. So, the type of discrimination was spelt out in relation to the size of the award to the Maha Saba.

    I do not agree with the Maha Saba on many things; I have heard Sat Maharaj and their pundits encourage racism against Africans with their anti-African misinformation and lies. Individuals and the state can challenge them in the courts if they so desire. They too have the same legal rights.

  • What you are defending is democracy and its inherent right to justice and freedom of speech. What we see in ‘sweet’ T&T is the bastardization of the justice system where people are using any means necessary to get over on who and what might seem the the weakest points in our system. One cannot help but notice that these so-called ‘discrimination’ cases are tried almost exclusively in San Fernando. Why San Fernando? It is so because the judges there are most sympathetic to the rendering of guilt against the defendants. It is unfortunate that the Government has been so callous in its aproach to these practices and have not challenged the operating minds behind practices. Justice should not be blind. Behaviour that is strategically used to deny one group and enhance another should not be tolerated. There is weakness and almost total breakdown in the delivery of services in the country, be it medical, transport, justice, crime, taxes, police protection, drugs, government contracts and in almost every institution of governmental undertaking. It is hard to distinguish police from thief, good from bad, legal from illegal, obeyance from enforcement and right from wrong. Some people operate well in chaos like this but it does not bode well for stability and the encouragement of law-abiding citizens to feel that they will get justice and respect because they have earned it.

  • Big bucks for Maha Sabha
    Refusal of radio licence case

    Richard Charan Editor, South Bureau
    Sunday, October 4th 2009

    A decade old discrimination case with racial and religious underpinnings, ended last month with an award to the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, of almost $3 million that will be taken from the Treasury.

    Taxpayers will have to pay millions more to the lawyers hired by the State to defend an action found to be indefensible by the local High Court, Court of Appeal and ultimately the Privy Council.

    More money will have to be found to pay the attorneys who represented the Maha Sabha and its Central Broadcasting Services Ltd (CBSL) which was refused a broadcast radio licence by the Patrick Manning-chaired Cabinet.

    The same Cabinet that approved in record time, the application made by Citadel Ltd, co-owned by People’s National Movement supporter Louis Lee Sing.

    The conduct of the State in this matter was so atrocious that one of the largest vindicatory awards ever granted-$500,000-was granted to the Hindu organisation.

    The compensation was ordered in a September 22 order by Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh, who said in a 36-page judgment that “what this case showed was discrimination, plain and simple”.
    Full Article : trinidadexpress.com

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