NATION

Judge to Deliver Ruling on Strike Out Application

The High Court in Suva will rule on the strike out application made by the Solicitor-General in response to an application filed by suspended MP Ratu Isoa Tikoca on August
02 Aug 2017 14:01
Judge to Deliver Ruling on Strike Out Application
Ratu Isoa Tikoca. Photo:Jone Luvenitoga

The High Court in Suva will rule on the strike out application made by the Solicitor-General in response to an application filed by suspended MP Ratu Isoa Tikoca on August 15.

In April, Tikoca had filed an application for leave to apply for a judicial review challenging the decision of Parliament to suspend him for the rest of the term of Parliament until 2018.

Yesterday, the Solicitor General, Sharvada Sharma who represents the Speaker of Parliament, submitted his written submissions for his strike out application before Judge Justice Lyone Seneviratne.

Mr Sharma said the basis of his submission was that the internal proceedings of the Parliament were not subject to the jurisdiction of the court.

Before the court proceeded with the case, Mr Sharma asked whether the internal proceedings of the Parliament and or the exercise of established Parliamentary privilege was something that fell within the jurisdiction of the court.

He also put before court examples of local cases which had discussed Parliamentary privileges.

The cases he said accordingly justified that Parliamentary privileges existed, it had the privilege to control proceedings and it was not for the court to question Parliamentary proceedings.

Justice Seneviratne said this depended on the case.

Mr Sharma added that the application for leave filed by the applicant had sought three declarations directly challenging the internal proceedings of the Parliament.

He said the challenge was against the decision made by the Parliament, actions taken by the Parliamentary Committee in Parliament, its authority to punish, take action to suspend the applicant and the resolution passed by Parliament.

These are matters which are truly internal matters of the Parliament, Mr Sharma submitted.

He stated further that there were certain privileges that the Parliament has which includes the privilege to control its own proceedings, regulate its own procedures and to exercise discipline and privilege to suspend or to take action against anybody including a member of Parliament for breach of Parliamentary privelleges and to punish the offence as well.

This privilege dated back to 1689 in Article nine of the Bill of Rights.

He said these privileges were necessary.

In response, the lawyer for the applicant, Kitione Vuetaki submitted that the challenge was not against the Parliamentary privileges, but to seek a judicial review to see if there were any powers in the Standing Orders to restrain Freedom of Speech and debate in Parliament.

He also said the Standing Order did not have provision for the suspension of the MP for more than 28 days.

Mr Vuetaki said the court should see if the power was in the Standing Order and if not then the power would be null and void.

The SODELPA member had been suspended from Parliament in September last year.

In addition Mr Vuetaki said the decision was made by the Parliament’s Privileges Committee despite Tikoca’s apology.

Mr Sharma told the court that the Parliament had privileges to act against anyone who promoted feelings of ill-will and hostility between different classes of the population of Fiji.

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

Feedback:  arishma.narayan@fijisun.com.fj

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