Crime & Court

Civil High Court To Make Ruling ON PM’s Lawsuit On May 15

The plaintiffs are seeking damages for libel and slander, an order that Ravindra-Singh apologise and that apology be published in a newspaper and that the article be removed from his Facebook page.
05 May 2020 12:03
Civil High Court To Make Ruling ON PM’s Lawsuit On May 15
Former Fiji Labour Party Parliamentary Leader for the 2018 General Election, Aman Ravindra-Singh.

The Civil High Court has set the ruling date for a case of defamation against Fiji Labour Party parliamentary leader for the 2018 General Election, Aman Ravindra-Singh, for May 15.

Ravindra-Singh had filed Summons to Set Aside Interlocutory Judgement on April 29, and hearing in the matter was called yesteday afternoon before Judge Justice Lyone Seneviratne.

Ravindra-Singh has been sued by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum (the plaintiffs) for defamation.

Ravindra-Singh is alleged to have posted an unsubstantiated article titled ‘Regime Dirty Politics’ on his Facebook page.

In the post, Ravindra-Singh claimed that Mr Bainimarama and Mr Sayed-Khaiyum had orchestrated temple break-ins.

He did not back his post with any evidence.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages for libel and slander, an order that Ravindra-Singh apologise and that apology be published in a newspaper and that the article be removed from his Facebook page.

Devanesh Sharma and Gul Fatima, from R Patel Lawyers, appeared for the plaintiffs while Ravindra-Singh was represented himself.

Ravindra-Singh argued that the plaintiff had breached the High Court rules.

He submitted that the interlocutory judgment entered on November 27, 2018, was irregular, defective and it be set aside and/or struck out.

However, Mr Sharma argued that Ravindra-Singh failed to file his statement of defence in time, which made it seem like he had admited the allegations against him.

Mr Sharma reiterated that the constitutional right to freedom of expression did not give anyone the right to defame another.

He told the court that Ravindra-Singh should have filed the statement of defence 14 days from service of the plaintiff’s writ of summons, and up until now he had not filed it.

He highlighted that in order to set aside a judgment, you have to make a timely application to set aside.

The judgment was entered on November 27, 2018, and Singh made his application to set aside the default judgment on April 29, 2020.

The court heard that Ravindra-Singh did not provide any explanation in his affidavit as to why he did not file a statement of defence and provided bare denials in a proposed statement of defence which formed part of his affidavit in support of the Summons for setting aside.
Edited by Jonathan Bryce

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