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27 FijiFirst MPs, Koya To File Responses in Poll Case by 3pm Tomorrow

The respondents in the SODELPA and National Federation Party joint election petition case have been given time till 3 pm tomorrow to file their responses and any affidavits they wish
18 Dec 2018 10:30
27 FijiFirst MPs, Koya To File Responses in Poll Case by 3pm Tomorrow
Opposition Leader Sitiveni Rabuka outside the High Court in Suva on December 17, 2018. Photo: Simione Haravanua

The respondents in the SODELPA and National Federation Party joint election petition case have been given time till 3 pm tomorrow to file their responses and any affidavits they wish to submit to the Court of Disputed Returns.

The matter was called before Court of Disputed Returns Judges Justice Anjala Wati and Justice Kamal Kumar yesterday.

Lawyers representing SODELPA’s Sitiveni Rabuka and NFP leader Biman Prasad are Jon Apted from Munro Leys, Filimoni Vosarogo from Mamlakha Lawyers and Semi Valenitabua from Toganivalu and Valenitabua lawyers.

The Solicitor-General Sharvada Sharma represented the Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem.

Lawyer Devanesh Sharma represented all 27 FijiFirst Members of the Parliament, FijiFirst candidate Faiyaz Koya and the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Lawyer Nilesh Prasad represented the

Electoral Commission.

The Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, and the Attorney-General, Sayed-Khaiyum, were among the 27 FijiFirst Members of Parliament present in court.

Mr Koya, also a respondent, was present. Opposition Leader Mr Rabuka, MPs Salote Radrodro and Ro Teimumu Kepa were present.

Mr Prasad was not present.

The case:

SODELPA and NFP are challenging the conduct, count and tallying of the results of the 2018 general elections.

Day 3:

The Court of Disputed Returns yesterday gave time till 3 pm tomorrow for all the respondents

to file their response and any affidavits to be adduced in evidence before the court fixes a hearing date.

Mr Apted said there were different kinds of allegations. He alleged there were 108 people that were denied the right to vote in the 2018 General Election and they had eight principal witnesses.

He also said that Mr Saneem would have to admit whether they turned up to vote or not.

Solicitor General Mr Sharma then responded and said that there was no single evidence to show that there were 108 people who were denied the right to vote.

Mr Sharma also highlighted that the petitioners must bring the evidence to court as they had the burden to prove the allegation.

He said if there was no evidence of the allegation then there was nothing to prove as there was not a single shred of evidence from the 108 people.

Mr Sharma also highlighted that Mr Saneem was not aware of the 108 people had turned up to vote or not.

He also said that Mr Saneem would do his level best to address all allegations.

He said Mr Saneem could not be expected to produce the 600,000 ballot votes to the

court.

Justice Wati had questioned Mr Apted on what their allegations were and what their evidence was.

Mr Apted responded that there was no need for them to file the affidavits as there were no provisions in the law for them to file them.

Justice Wati then asked Mr Apted what he was expecting while filing the affidavits.

Mr Apted said they thought to put something before the court.

Justice Kumar then said that it was not a tribunal court but the Court of Disputed Returns.

He told Mr Apted that they had to file everything and not to do half of the job.

Justice Wati said to the counsels that the court will decide if the oral evidence was required for the 108 people who were denied to vote.

She said her along with Justice Kumar will look at the evidence and the affidavits and decide if there would be certain evidence they would want to be presented in court as oral evidence.

Justice Wati also said that she expected prudent counsels to file everything efficiently.

Justice Wati also raised the issue on how the Supervisor of Elections was supposed to file the response on this allegation when he did not know who these 108 people were.

Mr Vosarogo said that he had prepared a memorandum that would guide the court

and other parties in the case as to which direction they were taking.

Justice Kumar informed the counsels that everyone would be given time to file their responses.

Both counsels for the respondents informed the court that they were ready to file responses by 3 pm tomorrow.

The matter will be called at 10 am on Thursday to fix the hearing date and set further directions. Edited by Nemani Delaibatiki

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