NEWS

Ruling-Courts Have No Control Over Parliament Matters: Judge

Courts do not have jurisdiction to rule on internal proceedings of Parliament, such as taking a decision to suspend a sitting member, the High Court in Suva has ruled. This
01 Sep 2017 10:57
Ruling-Courts Have No  Control Over Parliament Matters: Judge
Party member lawyer Niko Nawaikula

Courts do not have jurisdiction to rule on internal proceedings of Parliament, such as taking a decision to suspend a sitting member, the High Court in Suva has ruled.

This landmark ruling comes in the case brought against the Speaker of Parliament by the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA).

SODELPA was represented by Party member lawyer Niko Nawaikula while Solicitor-General Sharvada Sharma and Tupou Baravilala represented the Speaker.

SODELPA was seeking a declaration that Parliament is subject to the Constitution and has no constitutional authority to punish one of their members Isoa Tikoca with suspension and that allowing the Parliamentary procedures of majority vote to be used to suspend Tikoca from Parliament for the remainder of the term of Parliament was unlawful.

In his ruling Judge Justice Lyone Seneviratne said: “The compelling authority of the common law and the law as applies in Fiji, I believe, forcefully and logically can only lead to the conclusion that Parliament in its internal proceedings should not be and is not subject to the scrutiny or jurisdiction of the High Court unless specifically provided for in the Constitution.

“Parliament must be free to control and regulate its own internal proceedings free from the interference of the court. In a society where the rule of law is paramount, Parliament is presumed to, and can be relied upon to act properly and to lawfully regulate itself.

“Given the unique and onerous responsibility of the Parliament as being in effect, and fact, the People of Fiji acting through their elected representatives as the supreme law making body of the land, it must be free to order its own affairs without interference from the court.

“It must be unfettered in controlling its own proceedings, empowering itself to give force and effect to proceedings and applying those powers in a manner and with the discretion of its own choosing.”

This ruling would have had a bearing on the suspension of SODELPA president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu which is still before the courts, despite the lapsing of his suspension period.

Edited by Rusiate Mataika

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj



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