Public Notice

Sir Moti, Kirby Common Bond

Sir Moti entered our universe on March 18, 1925 and left us on May 17, 2012 at the ripe old age of 87. In a legal career spanning one half
18 Nov 2014 14:00
Sir Moti, Kirby Common Bond

Sir Moti entered our universe on March 18, 1925 and left us on May 17, 2012 at the ripe old age of 87.

In a legal career spanning one half of a century, Sir Moti Tikaram scaled the heights of our profession while striding humbly with the rest of us to make the difference he did to our lives both in and out of court, as well as on various lawn tennis courts in this country and elsewhere!

His interests outside the law extended far and wide. He was a bibliophile and an accomplished sportsman with the deterioration of vision and gait to prove his intellectual and physical prowess in both pursuits.

He is renowned today for the distinction of becoming the first local magistrate, senior magistrate, puisne judge of the Supreme Court (as the High Court of Fiji was then known), Ombudsman, Law Reform Commissioner, resident judge of appeal and then president of the Fiji Court of Appeal and upon his retirement, as a judge of the reconstituted apex Supreme Court of Fiji. (There is a striking parallel in those pioneering achievements between Sir Moti and Michael Kirby.)

I remember Sir Moti joking at a dinner function he attended in New Delhi during my stint there as a Visiting Professorial Fellow at Jawaharlal Nehru University, that he had earned his entitlement to a Bollywood award for acting in so many roles, positions and capacities in Fiji’s judicial service. He was, of course, the first Acting Chief Justice of Fiji after independence.

With so much in common, it was inevitable that the career paths of both Sir Moti and the Honourable Michael Kirby would cross often to lay the foundation for an enduring friendship.

I suppose I played my part in renewing their association every year by greeting them both on the anniversary of their birthday on March 18th.

Unbeknownst to both of them was another special connection with Fiji and in particular, Rakiraki – the idyllic locale of Sir Moti’s late wife’s home town and the place where Michael fondly remembers holidaying on the day Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.

Well before my short tenure and long torture as the Attorney-General of Solomon Islands, Michael was kind enough to accept our invitation to serve as the President of the Court of Appeal of Solomon Islands. It was a role that he enjoyed immensely and regretted relinquishing to take up his appointment on the bench of Australia’s apex court.

His eminence, integrity, humility and incredible intellectual energy are the reasons he remains gainfully employed in retirement.

Michael is a legend and an institution in his own right.

Despite his crowded schedule of appointments and engagements, Michael has always found time to champion causes for the voices of suffering to right wrongs.

He has just returned from New York after attending sessions of the United Nations in his capacity as Chair of the Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry on Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

It is our good fortune to have Michael here, as a guest of the University of Fiji and its School of Law, to speak on the topic I have assigned him for this year’s Sir Moti Tikaram Memorial Lecture.


The writer is Professor of Law at the University of Fiji.



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