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Ratu Naiqama Constitutional Redress Case

The suspended Member of Parliament, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu constitutional redress case was heard before Chief Justice Anthony Gates yesterday. Sharvada Sharma appeared for the Speaker to Parliament and the Attorney-General
30 Sep 2015 10:33
Ratu Naiqama Constitutional Redress Case
Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu.

The suspended Member of Parliament, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu constitutional redress case was heard before Chief Justice Anthony Gates yesterday.

Sharvada Sharma appeared for the Speaker to Parliament and the Attorney-General assisted by Salanieta Daunabuna and Ruby-Ann Mani.

Ratu Naiqama’s lawyer, Queens Counsel Julian Moti raised the issue of the State’s refusal to release copies of the recording made by Communications Fiji Limited allegedly containing alleged slurs made against the Speaker to Parliament by Ratu Naiqama.

Mr Moti saw this as a breach of Ratu Naiqama’s constitutional right under section 25 of the Constitution that dealt with Ratu Naiqama’s right of access to information held by the Parliamentary Privileges Committee or Parliament itself.

Ratu Naiqama according to Mr Moti required this information deliberated on by the Privileges Committee (a public office under Parliament) for the exercise or protection of Ratu Naiqama’s legal right for constitutional redress to the High Court.

The Solicitor-General objected, relying on section 16 and 20 of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act that respectively state that such evidence cannot be released and even if Communications Fiji Limited is subpoenaed to produce the same, it would amount to an offence under the law and inadmissible evidence.

Mr Sharma added that the recording was not relevant to the current proceedings apart from its inadmissible nature.

Queen Counsel Moti in reply, stated that the statute or the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act predated the 2013 Constitution and most importantly, was subservient to the Constitution, being the Supreme Law of the land.

The issue will be dealt with by Queens Counsel Mr Moti in written submissions.

The court then made the following orders: –

  1. Parties to file written submissions on both matters by 27/10/2015
  2. Any replies to be filed and served by 10/11/2015
  3. Any further responses by the 24/11/2015
  4. Hearing of the Constitutional Redress Application by Ratu Naiqama on 15/12/2015 at 9.30am.

Feedback: arieta.vakasukawaqa@fijisun.com.fj

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