NEWS

Parliament Decides

Speaker to Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni says she is only a referee in Parliament. She said it was Parliament that made the decisions and passes new laws. Dr Luveni was
06 Jul 2015 11:44
Parliament Decides
Controversial former Qarase Government colleague Adi Asenaca Caucau receives SODELPA president and suspended Member of Parliament Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu on his arrival in the USA.

Speaker to Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni says she is only a referee in Parliament.

She said it was Parliament that made the decisions and passes new laws.

Dr Luveni was commenting on growing speculation that the Opposition was about to mount a legal challenge against her over the two-year suspension of MP Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu.

“The decision to suspend Ratu Naiqama was made by Parliament, not me,” she said yesterday.

Ratu Naiqama is in the United States and could not be immediately be reached to comment.

The Opposition office’s Mick Beddoes has publicly stated its policy not to respond to the Fiji Sun.

But it is understood that a team of lawyers have been looking at grounds on which to challenge the suspension and the Speaker.

One of the grounds is whether the jurisdiction of Parliament extends outside of its precincts.

According to sources, two prominent lawyers, Richard Naidu and Jon Apted, are drawing up the legal papers for the challenge.

When Fiji Sun visited their respective residences in Suva yesterday, they both declined to comment.

Section 73 of the Constitution on powers, privileges, immunities and discipline says: “Parliament may prescribe the powers and privileges and immunities of members of Parliament and may make rules and orders for the discipline of members of Parliament.”

Ratu Naiqama was suspended for derogatory remarks he made against Dr Luveni in a SODELPA meeting in Makoi.

The Opposition has maintained that the penalty was too harsh.

It is believed that Ratu Naiqama was reluctant to pursue a legal recourse but the pressure came from within the Opposition ranks. He wanted to close the issue after he apologised to Dr Luveni in a letter. However, the letter, written from the Opposition office, included a legal option. It put Ratu Naiqama in a precarious position because it questioned the sincerity of his apology.

If it goes to court, it will be a test case because it could challenge parliamentary privilege and immunity in respect of anything said in Parliament or its committees.

Feedback: litia.cava@fijisun.com.fj

 


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