JUDICIAL review proceedings by 316 barkeepers and operators, and their association (BOATT), against Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh over amended covid19 public health regulations were withdrawn on Monday.
Lead counsel representing the group, Anand Ramlogan, SC, agreed that since the latest regulations, which took effect on Sunday, reverted to the 10 pm closing time for bars, it would not be prudent to pursue declaratory relief on the judicial review claim.
BOATT had taken action against a previous change in closing time from 10 pm to 8 pm,
The matter came up at a virtual hearing before Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams, who last week granted the group permission to pursue the claim against Deyalsingh and the Attorney General.
Ramlogan said there was no practical sense in pursuing those reliefs, which sought to have the court declare that the imposition of a mandatory 8 pm closing time for bars was ultra vires, illegal, irrational and arbitrary.
However, Ramlogan said he was of the opinion that the constitutional aspect of the matter still required adjudication by the court.
In its claim, the group is seeking declarations that the regulations were unconstitutional and its rights were breached.
As a result, the minister was removed from the proceedings.
Senior Counsel Reginald Armour, who represented both the minister and the Attorney General, drew the judge’s attention to another matter filed by Ramlogan and his team which also challenges the constitutionality of the regulations.
That matter, he said, has been docketed to Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh, and he asked Quinlan-Williams to adjourn the bar operators’ claim and hold discussions with her colleague so they can determine how best the two matters should proceed.
Although insisting the two cases were not identical, since the factual matrix and issues were different, Ramlogan said he had no issue with which court deliberated on the matters.
After the parties agreed to forward a copy of the other claim to her, Quinlan-Williams adjourned the matter to Thursday.
The barkeepers and operators are also still seeking compensation from the State.
They say because of the covid19 pandemic, which has affected the entire world, and the regulations imposed by the Government, they had to remain completely closed for more than three months, without earning an income.
On July 9, BOATT members protested at the Queen’s Park Savannah opposite the Office of the Prime Minister in Port of Spain, calling on him to give them back their two hours.
Also representing them are attorneys Renuka Rambhajan, Ganesh Saroop, and Douglas Bayley. The State’s team includes Rishi Dass, Savi Ramhit, Dianne Katwaroo, Raphael Adjodhia and Tenille Ramkissoon.
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