Court Rules in Favour of Saneem
Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem was within his powers when he temporarily deregistered the National Federation Party (NFP), the High Court in Suva has said.
This was made clear in a ruling by High Court Judge Lyone Seneviratne after the NFP challenged their temporary deregistration.
Judge Seneviratne said there was no merit in the appeal of the appellants therefore the appeal was dismissed and the appellants were also ordered to pay the Elections Office $2000 for the Court’s costs.
Appearing on behalf of the appellants, lawyer Jon Apted challenged the decisions of the Supervisor of Elections Office, that were made on February 1, 2016.
The appeal were filed on two grounds, which were:
- Whether Mr Saneem was correct in suspending NFP without first giving it an opportunity of being heard as required by the rules of natural justice.
- Whether Mr Saneem is correct in concluding that the auditor who certified the accounts of NFP should in law be a holder of a Certificate of Public Practice.
In addressing the first ground of appeal, Judge Seneviratne said Mr Saneem had acted within the scope of the legislation and the decision to suspend the party temporarily, is not in violation of the rules of natural justice.
Judge Seneviratne said the requirement to have a Certificate of Public Practice to offer services to the public was not a mere rule or regulation to manage internal affairs of the Fiji Institute of Accountants, but is an imperative statutory requirement.
Mr Apted submitted that there was not any evidence that NFP had knowledge that the accountants who certified their accounts did not meet any professional requirement.
Judge Seneviratne said NFP was bound to comply with the statutory requirements and they should have inquired whether the accountants possessed a Certificate of Public Practice before obtaining their services.
It was held that Mr Saneem’s decision based on the Political Parties Decree was correct.
He also stated that the Elections Office did not violate the political party’s constitutional rights.
Edited by Jonathan Bryce