NATION

Prakash’s Objection To Use Call Records Chart Overruled

Former FijiFirst Member of Parliament’s lawyer, Sid­dharth Nandan’s objection on the use of summary charts of Vijendra Prakash’s call records overruled by the Anti-Corruption High Court in Suva.
07 Oct 2022 11:26
Prakash’s Objection To Use Call Records Chart Overruled
Former FijiFirst Member of Parliament, Vijendra Prakash outside the Anti-Corruption High Court in Suva on October 5, 2022. Photo: Jone Salusalu

Former FijiFirst Member of Parliament’s lawyer, Sid­dharth Nandan’s objection on the use of summary charts of Vijendra Prakash’s call records overruled by the Anti-Corruption High Court in Suva.

Prakash is charged by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) with one count each of false information to a public servant and obtaining financial advantage.

 

He is alleged to have obtained financial advantages in breach of the Parliamentary Remunerations Act of 2014.

Prakash is alleged to have falsely stated that his per­manent place of residence was in Waidracia, Vunidawa, Nabuni, Naluwai, Naitasiri, and allegedly obtained $33,670 between August 2019 and March 2020.

 

The trial is presided over by the Anti-Corruption High Court Judge Justice Dr Thushara Kumarage.

Mr Nandan had objected to FICAC’s use of summary charts as part of their evidence through their investigator to analyse Prakash’s official and personal mobile phone call records provided by Vodafone Fiji Limited.

 

FICAC submission

In his submission, FICAC commissioner Rashmi Aslam said although the defence’s objection on the charts pre­pared by the Prosecution, it did not mean that the charts were not admissible.

He said Prosecution has 4137 call records of Prakash pro­vided by Vodafone Fiji Limited.

 

He added that jurisdictions like Australia continued to use charts in trials.

He said none of the authorities provided to the court say there was a need of an expert or expert evidence in the make or use of a summary chart.

He said there had been judgments on this delivered in 1970 and 1971 and that after 52 years, the same objections were raised.

 

Mr Aslam said there was a book called Fundamentals of Trial Techniques which was approved by the Judiciary and that it was like Bible to him when it came to any trial.

He said the book spoke of plan, development of visual strategy and the use of it in evidence.

 

He said the book stated it was extremely useful in com­plex matters to provide visual aid in the trial to simplify the matters.

He said visual aids were not new, not expert evidence and these were tools provided to both parties to simplify their cases.

 

Mr Aslam said what Prosecution was doing was not rock­et science and that Prosecution was putting colours to the movement of Prakash during the time of the offending period.

He said the FICAC investigators went through the call records of Prakash and a summary chart was generated.

He said the summary charts or visual aids were highly accepted in all jurisdictions.

 

Defence submission

Mr Nandan in his submission said the charts were not summary charts but an actual analysis of raw data pro­vided by Vodafone.

He said the investigator and witness had taken the raw data and sampled and cleansed it to make it a chart.

 

He added that Prosecution started from the conclusion and took the set of data to fit the conclusion.

Mr Nandan said Prosecution was tracking Prakash’s movement based on a selective data and that it was mis­leading data.

He said the visual aids to present conclusion were mis­leading the court and that an opinion should only be given by an expert with proper qualifications or experience.

 

Judge’s view

The Judge, following the submissions from both parties, overruled the objections raised by Mr Nandan.

He said in this matter, this court had highlighted and properly explained as to what was accepted from the wit­ness.

 

He said by seeing what was mentioned by the learned counsels in this matter, the objective of the Prosecution through this witness was to summarise or brief the evi­dence they wished to present to the court on the certain interaction of movement of the accused.

He said in this regard, this court sees that this witness was not going to read about or give evidence about the the­sis on data analysis.

 

He said the court sees that a witness from Vodafone Fiji Limited had already given evidence in court and put down the proper baseline to expect what was going to come through this witness.

The Judge said if defence found things to be controver­sial or difficult, they always had the right to cross-examine the witness and scrutinise the witness in detail.

 

He said the court did not see to have legal fallacies in the witness giving evidence which should not be captured in evidence.

 

Feedback: ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj

Story By: Ashna Kumar



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