NEWS

Rajendra Chaudhry Found Guilty Of Contempt Of Court

Chaudhry has been ordered to pay the cost of the application to strike out and the proceedings assessed in the sum of $10,000 to the Attorney- General within 30 days.
05 Apr 2019 10:25
Rajendra Chaudhry Found Guilty Of Contempt Of Court
New Zealand-based lawyer Rajendra Chaudhry.

New Zealand-based lawyer Rajendra Chaudhry has been ordered to pay $10,000 to the Attorney-General of Fiji, after he was found guilty of one count of contempt of court.

The matter was called in the Civil High Court before Judge Justice Kamal Kumar yesterday.

Chaudhry has been ordered to pay the cost of the application to strike out and the proceedings assessed in the sum of $10,000 to the Attorney- General within 30 days.

The court also ruled that the application to strike out the proceedings vide summons filed on February 5, 2019, is dismissed and struck out.

Chaudhry had made defamatory comments on Facebook against the outgoing Chief Justice Anthony Gates, Chief Registrar Yohan Liyanage, and the Fijian Judiciary as a whole between September and October, 2018.

On behalf of the Attorney-General the Fijian Solicitor-General had filed a notice of motion on October 19, 2018.

This was to seek the order of committal against Chaudhry for contempt of court and that he be committed to prison, be ordered to pay a fine and pay costs of and occasion by these proceedings on an indemnity basis.

While delivering the judgment, Justice Kumar said the respondent’s (Chaudhry) intentional conduct was directed at the Fijian Judiciary, Chief Justice of Fiji and the Chief Registrar and the Facebook post would cause harm to the Fijian Judiciary.

He said the Facebook posts were intended to bring disrepute to the Chief Justice, Chief Registrar and the Judiciary as a whole.

“Facebook posts subject to this proceedings undermined the public confidence in the Fijian Judiciary, its Chief Justice and intended to weaken Fijian democracy,” he said.

“The damage that was suffered by the Facebook posts was damage to the reputation, integrity and dignity of Chief Justice of Fiji, Chief Registrar of Fiji, Fijian Judiciary and Fijian democracy as a whole.

“All of the respondent’s (Chaudhry’s) comments when viewed collectively paint a picture of corruption, bias and partiality by the Chief Justice and the entire

Fijian Judiciary and clearly show that there was indeed a real risk that the Facebook comments under- mined the public confidence in the administration of justice in Fiji,” Justice Kumar said.

He said the court was of the view that the judicial officers and judiciary as a guarantor of justice must enjoy public confidence and be protected from baseless attacks and from being tyrannised by anyone.

Justice Kumar said the court should not hesitate to safeguard its integrity and dignity from such scrupulous attacks whether made by residents or non-residents.

The matter was adjourned to April 25 for sentencing at 2.30pm.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback: ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj

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