NATION | NEWS

Ravindra-Singh To Be Sentenced On Monday

Ravindra-Singh continued to say that the Judgment does not stop him from using the words. He maintained that the committal proceedings, which had been ruled upon and in which Ravindra-Singh had been found guilty, were improper.
10 Aug 2022 15:12
Ravindra-Singh To Be Sentenced On Monday
Lawyer Aman Ravindra-Singh.

The Civil High Court of Suva will hand down its sentence on Monday in the case of Lautoka lawyer, Aman Ravindra-Singh, who is convicted for contempt of court.

The applicants, the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General had brought committal proceedings after Ravindra-Singh had failed to comply with the Orders of the Court made on July 24, 2020.

Ravindra-Singh, who stands convicted for contempt of court, filed an application for a permanent stay of proceedings. Judge Justice Jude Nanayakkara dismissed the application for permanent stay and held that there had been no abuse of process or prosecutorial conduct during the committal proceedings.

 

Following this, the court asked Ravindra-Singh to present his mitigation submissions. Ravindra-Singh requested time from the court stating that he had instructed counsel to represent him in his mitigation and the counsel was only available on Thursday afternoon and next Monday.

He also stated that he wished to take a stand to put evidence in his mitigation.

The lawyer for the applicants, Gul Fatima objected to the extension of time and submitted that Ravindra-Singh was convicted on July 28, 2022, and knew that a mitigation and sentencing hearing was to be done.

She said he delayed this by filing his application for a permanent stay which was then heard, and a ruling was delivered.

 

She submitted that he had been aware at all times that the mitigation and sentencing hearing would proceed in the event the Court refused to grant a permanent stay.

Justice Nanayakkara said the court could not entertain Ravindra-Singh’s application to adjourn the hearing and asked him to make his oral submissions. Ravindra-Singh claimed that the Applicants were rushing the proceedings.

He further claimed he was not given a fair trial when he was denied the opportunity to instruct counsel and present his defence.

Ms Fatima told the court that the matter was not rushed by the Applicants and that the case was instituted in 2018.

 

The Court said that this matter had to reach finality and that Ravindra-Singh had the option to provide written submissions through his counsel.

He was also invited to provide any oral submissions in respect of his mitigation. Ravindra-Singh elected to give sworn evidence from the dock.

He explained that he was exercising his constitutional right to freedom of expression and that there were no Court Orders in place restricting him from using the words violent or corrupt.

He added that he had been a practitioner for 20 years and had never disobeyed the bench or orders of the Court.

In cross-examination, Ms Fatima asked Ravindra-Singh if he thought that it was appropriate for him to use the terms corrupt or violent.

She referred Ravindra-Singh to the Judgment of the High Court dated July 24, 2020, in the defamation proceedings where the presiding Judge had deemed the terms to be defamatory.

 

Ravindra-Singh disagreed and said that there was nothing stopping him from using the terms.

She then asked Ravindra-Singh why he had attempted to comply with the Orders of the Court, and only after committal proceedings had been instituted.

Ravindra-Singh continued to say that the Judgment does not stop him from using the words. He maintained that the committal proceedings, which had been ruled upon and in which Ravindra-Singh had been found guilty, were improper.

He also claimed that he had never made allegations against the bench.

The Court addressed this by saying that he had alleged he was not given a fair right to be heard, despite being given time to file submissions, affidavits, and offer evidence.

 

Sentencing Submission:

Ms Fatima submitted that in his Judgment, the Court had asked for submissions from Counsel on denunciation, specific deterrence, and general deterrence.

She added that much of Ravindra-Singh’s arguments had been dealt with in the Judgments of the Court as well as the Decision in his application for permanent stay, which contained content that could have been his grounds of appeal, grounds for mitigation, or constitutional redress.

She said this was a novel case that had gone beyond the compliance of the court orders. She submitted that this case had to do with conduct where Ravindra-Singh had shown no respect for the Judgment, the Judiciary, its pronouncements, and essentially the rule of law and administration of justice.

 

She asked for a custodial sentence on the higher end of the scale. She submitted that the Court seized a number of posts that Ravindra-Singh had posted on Facebook, which contained defamatory language, and the very same language that the Court had adjudicated upon.

She said that this demonstrated a flagrant disregard of the Court’s judgment and respect for the bench by Ravindra-Singh.

She also submitted that the Court needed to take into account that Facebook was a global platform and that the viewership of the post was beyond what was visible in terms of engagement, where users react to posts, share posts, or leave comments.

 

She added that Ravindra-Singh as a legal practitioner, a former prosecutor, and a former Lecturer at the University of the South Pacific and was at all times fully aware of the consequences of breaching the court orders.

She also said that there was no remorse shown by Ravindra-Singh for his actions.

Ms Fatima said Ravindra-Singh had attempted to purge his contempt by advertising apologies in the newspapers, however, these could not be regarded as apologies as they did not correctly identify the names of the Applicants.

 

She also said that the advertisements were nothing but hollow words as they were not genuine, and did not specify what exactly Ravindra-Singh was apologising for.

She added that the defamatory Facebook post was publicly published by Ravindra-Singh, it was visible to a range of Facebook users, but what Ravindra-Singh considered to be an apology was simply a desperate attempt to purge his contempt.

In relation to the damages paid by Ravindra-Singh to the Official Receiver’s Trust Account, Ms Fatima submitted that again Ravindra-Singh only did this after the committal proceedings and bankruptcy proceedings were filed.

 

She submitted that Ravindra-Singh had at the time of the Judgment Orders being delivered in July 2020, made no attempts to comply with them.

She added that Ravindra-Singh’s continued use of defamatory language showed his conscious disregard and disrespect for the Court’s judgment.

She asked the Court to consider the fact that Ravindra-Singh’s conduct has lowered the confidence that litigants should have in the judicial system, as Ravindra-Singh was not an ordinary litigant, but an officer of the Court, and that he had shown utter disregard for the Court Orders, despite committal proceedings being on foot.

 

She also submitted that Ravindra-Singh was not remorseful or genuine in relation to purging his contempt or compliance with the orders of the Court and that this was evident from his own evidence in relation to the defamatory terms.

She submitted that the committal proceedings were not brought by the Applicants to simply compel Ravindra-Singh to comply with Judgment Orders.

She submitted that the committal proceedings were brought to keep litigants and individuals like Ravindra-Singh from disrespecting the judiciary and its pronouncements and essentially for the protection of the rule of law and administration of justice.

The Court has asked the parties to file written submissions by Thursday.

 

Feedback: ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj



Fijisun Ad Space


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.


Fiji Sun Instagram
Subscribe-to-Newspaper