By JADA LOUTOO Saturday, July 28 2012
A HIGH Court judge has suggested that calypsonians be properly regulated by legislation and rules so as to avoid bitterness in the fraternity. Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh made the suggestion as he ruled in favour of two members of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO), Abasewolu Khalabi and Anthony Woodroofe, who filed a claim in the High Court challenging a decision by TUCO to classify them as associate members.
The purported reclassification of the membership of the two as associate members would have denied them the opportunity to stand for office in TUCO.
Both Khalabi’s and Woodroffe’s dispute with the organisation centered around their membership. They insisted they were members on May 1, 2005, when a decision was taken to change certain articles of TUCO’s 1993 constitution, which would have reclassified members of the calypso body to full members or associate members.
TUCO, however, said the two men were not members when the annual general meeting was held and certain amendments to the constitution were passed. Both sides were given an opportunity to resolve the issue out-of-court, but could not.
In his ruling, Boodoosingh found that both men were members on May 1, 2005 and that the proposed amendments were not properly before the meeting for consideration.
The judge also held that the purported change in the classification of membership of the two was invalid since it was made under provisions of the amended constitution.
Boodoosingh also ruled that neither Khalabi or Woodroffe were given a hearing to determine whether they fell into the classification of calypsonian.
As he ruled in favour of the two, and ordered that TUCO pay their costs in the sum of $14,000 each, Boodoosingh noted that “as citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, the calypso artform is important to all of us.”
“It was started here and it is here that it has been nurtured, grown and spread into may different forms and directions. It is important, therefore, that there is proper regulation of the artistes who perform it by legislation and by the governing rules of the organisation.”
The judge said the constitution or governing rules of an organisation “ought not to be changed willy-nilly or in haste.”
“There must be time for adequate consideration, full deliberations, mature reflection and wise decision making. An essential component of that is that persons affected must be given the opportunity to read and consider the proposed changes,” he said.
“It is hoped that those concerned would have learnt from this experience which has caused bitterness and hard feelings among some in the calypso fraternity, as reflected in the unwillingness of the parties to try to resolve these matters in an amicable way,” he added.
Faried Scoon represented both Khalabi and Woodroffe, while Theodore Guerra,SC, and Ken Wright appeared for TUCO.