NATION

No Backdating of Law: A-G

Laws cannot be applied retrospectively, the Opposition in the house were again reminded  yesterday. SODELPA Member of Parliament Niko Nawaikula yesterday questioned why no provisions had been made to revert
08 Mar 2018 10:00
No Backdating of Law: A-G
SODELPA MP Viliame Gavoka (left) and National Federation Party MP Biman Prasad outside Parliament on March 7, 2018. Photo: Parliament of Fiji

Laws cannot be applied retrospectively, the Opposition in the house were again reminded  yesterday.

SODELPA Member of Parliament Niko Nawaikula yesterday questioned why no provisions had been made to revert iTaukei land acquired for state use before 2013.

Attorney-General Aiyas Sayed-Khaiyum said the Bainimarama Government ensured that laws are now in place that any iTaukei land acquired for State use will have to be reverted to the iTaukei land-owning units if the State no longer uses it for the purpose it was acquired.

This means, for example, if State had acquired a hill to set up a reservoir to supply water for thousands of Fijians, they can only use that land for the reservoir. If the State decides it no longer needs a reservoir there, then that land had to be reverted to the iTaukei land-owning unit.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said as a lawyer, Mr Nawaikula should be aware of this and was aware that no law can be applied retrospectively.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum cited the case of the late Ratu Epeli Kanakana and others versus the then Native Land Trust Board and Native Lands Commission where the land-owning unit was wanting the entire Suva peninsula to be reverted to the land-owning unit.

On February 26, 1999, a writ of summons and a statement of claim was filed by Ratu Epeli and 10 others in the High Court seeking compensation for the loss of 6684.3 acres of Suva Peninsula land.

In this, the Judge had upheld that reverting of land to the iTaukei land-owning unit cannot be done, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum informed Parliament.

He reminded the Opposition that all subsequent Constitutions from the time of the Deed of Cession was signed did not and could not call for such a change either.

The Opposition then asked the possibility of the State leasing land from the land-owning units instead of converting it to State land. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum explained that because of security of tenure and investment by State, the State needed to have control over the land for that duration.

Land is acquired for public purposes but does not preclude Government from making other arrangements such as leasing land or leasing buildings from iTaukei holdings.

Edited by George Kulamaiwasa

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