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Court to rule on T&TCB voting Dec 17

Published: 
Tuesday, October 2, 2018
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Attorney Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj address members of the media during a press conference at his San Fernando office yesterday. Photo by:RISHI RAGOONATH

DERRICK ACHONG

A legal dispute, which has derailed the T&T Cricket Board (TTCB)'s elections for almost two years, is set to be resolved on December 17.

After a brief trial at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain yesterday afternoon, High Court Judge Jacqueline Wilson reserved her decision in the case, in which members of the National League Committee are claiming that the TTCB's election rules are undemocratic, bias and irrational.

Once Wilson delivers her final decision in the case at the end of the year, the TTCB will be required to call the elections within four weeks.

In the lawsuit, six of the committee's members are challenging Article 4 (1) of the TTCB's constitution, which gives TTCB executive members 12 outgoing votes.

Nominated members are allowed six votes, while elected outgoing members, some of whom may be standing for re-election, are also afforded six votes.

Presenting submissions on behalf of six of the league's members, Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj called on Wilson to amend the TTCB constitution as he said that it provides an unfair advantage to incumbent executive members.

"It creates an unfair advantage to the incumbent executive and cannot be good for the welfare of the sport," Maharaj said.

Maharaj sought to refer to a recent report on the TTCB's governance prepared by a three-member Independent Review Committee (IRC) led by High Court Judge Vasheist Kokaram. The report called for similar democratic reforms as suggested by Maharaj's clients.

TTCB lawyer Fyard Hosein, SC, objected to the report being used as he claimed that the IRC exceeded its remit in making its recommendations. He also claimed that the report may be the subject of a separate lawsuit.

Hosein asked Wilson to reject the lawsuit as he suggested that she was being asked to substitute her logic for the TTCB's.

"A little deference should be allowed. They are asking you to rewrite the constitution," Hoisein said.

Stating that Parliament delegated the responsibility of writing the constitution to the TTCB over 23 years ago, Hosein said there have been several failed attempts to have the election rules changed, the most recent being in 2015.

As he questioned the allegations of bias, Hosein pointed out that the 12 contested votes represent one-quarter of the total votes within the TTCB.

As he claimed that the current system is the most appropriate, Hosein noted that the TTCB had experienced numerous successes since being formed.

"It is a balance of continuity and democratic duty to help the development and welfare of the sport," Hosein said as he claimed that it would be undemocratic for Wilson to usurp the system that the TTCB had selected.

The committee is also being represented by Kiel Taklalsingh, Vivek Lakhan-Joseph and Priya Ramsahai. Anil Maraj and Sasha Bridgemohansingh are appearing alongside Hosein for the TTCB.

About the Case

The National League Committee filed the lawsuit before the elections were due on October 29, 2016.

The committee is led by former Sports Company of T&T (Sportt) chairman Dinanath Ramnarine and includes Daren Ganga, Samuel Badree, Anil Kamal, Camal Basdeo and St Servius Clint Pamphile.

The group is claiming that the election rule governing votes for incumbent executive members is unfair, illegal, and undemocratic.

Instead, the group is seeking amendments which include the removal of outgoing votes, a one club-one vote system and a term limit for TTCB president.

It is also contending that seats on the executive should be afforded to the Tobago Cricket Association, primary and secondary schools, the Umpires Council and Women’s Cricket.

The trial of the case comes months after the National Gas Company (NGC) conducted an audit into the TTCB for alleged misappropriation of its sponsorship money.

NGC's audit centred around the almost $13 million in sponsorship, it provided to the TTCB, between 2014 and 2016.

The report, which was leaked in June, allegedly stated that 24 per cent of the funds were not used as stipulated. It accused the TTCB of unilaterally reallocating $2,983,000 in unused funding to itself and failing to keep proper accounting records.

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