NEWS

Naidu To Fly In Overseas Counsel

The Judge directed the parties to file their written submissions. Decision on Naidu’s Summons to Set Aside will be delivered on 22 August 2022.
27 Jul 2022 11:10
Naidu To Fly In Overseas Counsel
Suva lawyer accused of contempt of Court, Richard Naidu with his lawyer Jon Apted of Munro Leys outside the Civil High Court in Suva on July 26, 2022. Photos: Ashna Kuma

Committal proceedings filed by the Atorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum against Suva Lawyer Richard Naidu were called in the Suva High Court yesterday.

The proceedings relate to a Facebook post which appeared on Naidu’s Facebook and in which post he allegedly ridiculed the Courts and judiciary.

Judge Justice Jude Nanayakkara, presiding over the proceedings, said that there were two applications before him. One application was filed by Jon Apted appearing for Naidu and the other was filed by the Fiji Law Society, who are seeking to join the proceedings.

The Judge said that he would deal with the application filed by Mr Apted first.

The Court heard that Mr Apted had filed a Summons to Set Aside the Ex Parte Order granted for leave to issue the committal proceedings.

The Attorney-General’s lawyer, Gul Fatima from R Patel Lawyers, argued that the Summons had fundamental errors of law and was a delaying tactic by Naidu.

 

She argued that the grounds stated in the Summons dealt with the Court not being informed of Naidu being a possible candidate for the National Federation Party and public speculation that Naidu may become the next Attorney-General.

She said that these matters had nothing to do with the Facebook post and were irrelevant matters which the Judge did not need to take note of. She argued that the purpose of bringing this application was to delay the committal proceedings and to intimidate the bench.

The Court heard that two Affidavits had been filed in the proceedings, one by the  Munro Leys Library Manager and another by Lenora Salusalu Qereqeretabua. The Attorney-General’s lawyer asked why Naidu could not depose an Affidavit.

 

The Court heard that Naidu had instructed his Library Manager that he had a mutually antagonistic relationship with the Attorney-General.

The Attorney-General’s lawyer argued that if Naidu held this opinion, he should have deposed an Affidavit, however this information would remain irrelevant in respect of the proceedings.

She argued that the proceedings simply dealt with Naidu’s post which allegedly ridiculed the judiciary. The Court also heard that Ms Qereqeretabua, in her Affidavit deposed that she writes her own speeches and that this too, had nothing to do with the committal proceedings.

Mr Apted responded to the arguments by saying that Naidu had a constitutional right to remain silent and did not need to swear any Affidavits. He argued that the grounds in his Summons are relevant requested for the matter to be set down for hearing.

 

The Judge then said that he had heard the arguments given by both parties and would give directions for filing of written submissions. He said he would then deliver his Decision.

Mr Apted said that Naidu had engaged Senior Counsel to argue the Summons and wished to be represented by counsel of his choice. He also said that he wished to cross-examine the Attorney-General.

The Judge said that Mr Apted had made oral arguments in respect of the Summons and there was no need for a further Hearing. He also reminded Mr Apted that he could not make such remarks from the bar table and needed to have filed a formal application for any oral evidence to be taken.

The Judge directed the parties to file their written submissions. Decision on Naidu’s Summons to Set Aside will be delivered on 22 August 2022.

 

Fiji Law Society Files Application

Meanwhile, the Fiji Law Society has also filed an application seeking a joinder as an intervener.

The Fiji Law Society is seeking an order directing that the Fiji Law Society be granted leave to be joined as an intervener, and be permitted to file and serve written submissions and appear at the substantive hearing of the application for committal (oral submissions may be made only if leave granted at the hearing).

 

The Fiji Law Society Filed Grounds For The Application On Which Orders Are Sought Are:

  •  The issues raised by the application are of public and general importance, and concern professional standards, the rule of law and public confidence in the administration of justice in Fiji;
  •  The Fiji law Society has statutory functions under the Legal Practitioners Act 2009 to maintain the professional standards of its members, and to protect and assist the public in all matters incidental to the practice of law;
  • The Fiji Law Society will provide the Court with material assistance on an independent and objective basis, which is important given the inherent conflicts in proceedings of this type (the parties, and where the alleged contempt is scandalising the Court it is inevitable that the Court has an interest in the proceedings); and
  • The Fiji law Society’s participation will focus on providing legal submissions and relevant legal authorities, and will have no material adverse effect on the efficient hearing and determination of the proceeding.

When the matter was called before Justice Nanayakkara, the Court heard that the Attorney-General would be opposing the application by the Fiji Law Society to join the proceedings.

 

Feedback: ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj



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