Crime & Court

Duo Acquitted For Defective Curfew Charge

Magistrate Turaga noted that the Public Health (Infectious Diseases) Regulation which was gazetted on March 30th creating a new offence namely failure to comply.
16 Apr 2020 11:29
Duo Acquitted For Defective Curfew Charge

The imposition of the curfew and subsequent directives given by the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in regards to COVID-19 under the Public Health Act has been put into question by a magistrate in Nadi.

Magistrate Siromi Turaga acquitted Ravin Rohit Lal, a 36-year-old truck driver, and Shalvin Praveet Chand, a 29-year-old mechanic, of curfew related charges saying the charge was defective and bad in law.

The two from Aralevu in Nadi were arrested midnight Friday while driving along Aralevu Road.

The two men were arrested, interviewed and formally charged under Section 69 (1) (c) of the Public Health Act (Infectious Diseases) Regulation of 2020 for failing to comply with the Prime Ministers orders by breaching the curfew hours, an order that was deemed necessary for the protection of the public health from an infectious disease namely Novel Coronavirus.

Both admitted to the offence and were willing to pay a fine.

Magistrate Turaga noted that the Public Health (Infectious Diseases) Regulation which was gazetted on March 30th creating a new offence namely failure to comply.

“I ask the pertinent question, was the charge valid or properly made out against the accused person when such order was not made by the Minister for Health pursuant to Section 69(1)(c) of the Public Health Act 1935 and Regulation 2 of the Public Health (Infectious Diseases) Regulation of 2020,” Magistrate Turaga said.

He stated he had read through recent amendments of the law and could not find any declarations made by Health Minister Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete in regards to the imposition of a curfew.

Magistrate Turaga said recent amendments to the law, as containment and preventive measures to COVID-19, only gives Dr Waqainabete powers and no one else.

He said he was yet to see any statute that gives the Prime Minister any other powers related to the administration of the Public Health Act.

He said any decision that arose from the Prime Minister’s directives under the Act was unlawful and void.

He said the charge was defective.

State will be appealing the ruling.

Feedback: fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj



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