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Complaint Against Dentist Dismissed

Complaint Against Dentist Dismissed
August 30
10:00 2018

 

The President of the Medical and Dental Professional Con­duct Tribunal Justice David Alfred yesterday dismissed a com­plaint lodged by the Fiji Dental Council against prominent dentist Dr Seema Lal.

The Council made a disciplinary charge of unprofessional conduct against Dr Lal alleging that be­tween May 13, 2017 and July 18, 2017, while being a registered den­tal practitioner, she committed un­professional conduct, that is, in the course of providing dental treat­ment to Rubina Aktar where she was allegedly unethical, incompe­tent or negligent.

In her response dated May 17, 2018, Dr Lal denied the complaint and maintained that she had not been unethical, incompetent or negli­gent during the dental treatment.

Hearing

At the commencement of the hear­ing, Dr Lal’s lawyer Laurel Vaurasi raised objections and stated that the tribunal does not have jurisdic­tion to hear the complaint.

Her objections were twofold in that there was no hearing by the Dental Professional Conduct Com­mittee on the complaint and that there had been non-disclosure and non-obedience of the orders of the tribunal.

Ms Vaurasi made an application to strike out the matter on the ground that the investigators’ report had not been disclosed to Dr Lal.

Furthermore, she stated that cer­tain provisions of the Constitution had not been complied with regard­ing the right to access information held by another required for exer­cise or protection of legal rights and not to have, unlawfully obtained ev­idence adduced against the practi­tioner and to a copy of proceedings.

Decision

Justice Alfred stated in his deci­sion that lawmaker’s only give ju­risdiction to the tribunal to hear complaints laid by the council on the recommendation of the Dental Professional Conduct Committee.

In this case the Council’s acting chief executive officer confirmed that no hearing was conducted by the committee.

“In my view where the subject is concerned, it is the bounden duty of any tribunal carrying out a ju­dicial or quast-judicial function, to ensure that the subject’s rights are protected and preserved,” Justice Alfred said.

He said the hearing by the den­tal professional conduct commit­tee was a condition that cannot be done without in order to give the tribunal jurisdiction to hear the complaint.

“Here it is admitted that the PCC did not conduct a hearing. Conse­quently, it must follow that the tri­bunal has no jurisdiction to hear this complaint.

In order words, absent a hearing absent any jurisdiction.”

Furthermore, the Fiji Dental Counsel was ordered to pay Dr Lal costs summarily assessed at $500.

Private lawyer David Toganivalu appeared on behalf of the council.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback: fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj

 

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