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Judge orders bar owners to vacate

By JADA LOUTOO Wednesday, April 18 2012

PATRONS of Ramsaran’s Bar on the westbound corner of Tumpuna Road and the Churchill Roosevelt Highway, will soon have to find another “watering hole” to patronise after a High Court judge yesterday ordered the bar owners to immediately vacate the property.

Justice Maureen Rajnauth-Lee yesterday ruled that Tana Gayadeen and Curtis Gayadeen do not have right, title or interest in the 18,000 square feet of land acquired by the State in 1945 and which formed part of the highway. The judge has granted a six week stay of execution of her judgment.

The court’s ruling is likely to affect similar claims by landowners in the construction of the Point Fortin Highway and similar carriageways envisioned by the State. The Gayadeen family are the owners of Ramsaran’s Bar at the corner of Churchill Roosevelt Highway and Cocorite Road. The bar has been at that spot since 1953. Attempts by the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure were made to compensate the Gayadeens so that they could vacate the premises to allow for the expansion of the highway. Also located on the property are the family’s home and a lotto booth which the family also operates.

The newly-constructed $150 million dual carriageway from O’Meara Road to Demerara Road, Arima, was formally opened in March last year, although the bar has obstructed its completion. A new three-lane exit from Tumpuna Road to the highway was paved and a portion of the bar’s parking lot was utilised for the left-turn lane onto the highway. The Gayadeens, through their attorney Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC, filed a constitutional motion against the State, claiming their rights to enjoyment of property were infringed as well as their rights to respect for their family and private life.

They sought declarations that the State had no right title or interest in the lands and that they were the owners entitled to possession of the property. The bar’s owners also complained of the infringement of their rights when a portion of the car park was paved and sought compensation in their claim.

Maharaj argued that the Land Acquisition Act was not a highway creating statute but a statute for acquisition of land for public purposes. However, in her ruling Justice Rajnauth-Lee agreed with the view advanced by attorney for the Attorney General, Avory Sinanan SC, that Gazette Notice No 1711 published on December 7, 1945, had the effect in law and satisfied the statutory requirement for the creation of a highway set out in the Roads Ordinance.

She said the Gazette Notice was in substance a proclamation. In her ruling, the judge said the Gayadeens also failed to show how their rights were infringed when the ministry paved the triangular portion of the carpark, adding that the State had proved its rights to possession of the lands.

She also agreed with Sinanan’s contention that it would be absurd for the State to pay what would amount to double compensation having acquired the lands in 1945 and paid compensation.

The Gayadeens have been ordered to pay the defendant costs of the claim and counterclaim filed by the State. Sinanan led Larry Lalla and Sarfraz Alsaran and was instructed by Deowattee Dilraj-Battoosing and Brent James for the State while Maharaj led Rikki Harnanan and was instructed by Vijaya Maharaj for the Gayadeens.

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