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Ravindra-Singh Sentenced For 10 Months In Jail, Flees Country

The Judge said the rule of law required that those whose rights were infringed should seek the aid of the court, and respect for the legal process could suffer if those who needed protection failed to get it.
17 Aug 2022 11:14
Ravindra-Singh Sentenced For 10 Months In Jail, Flees Country
Former Lautoka lawyer convicted of contempt of court, Aman Ravindra-Singh outside the Civil High Court in Suva on August 9, 2022. Photo: Ashna Kumar

Former Lautoka lawyer, Aman Ravindra-Singh has fled the country. Department of Immigration sources said Ravindra-Singh flew to Sydney, Australia on a morning flight last Saturday.

This is before he was handed a sentence yesterday by the Civil High Court for contempt of court.

High Court Judge Justice Jude Nanayakkara handed him a custodial term of 10 months imprisonment. Counsel for the Applicants asked the Court to issue a bench warrant against Ravindra-Singh as he was not present in Court.

The Applicants who are the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General had filed a committal proceeding after Ravindra-Singh failed to comply with the Orders of the Court made on July 24, 2020. Justice Nanayakkara said the seriousness of the criminal contempt was proven in court.

 

He said there had been no genuine expression of contribution by Ravindra-Singh for his conduct, nor any indication that he would desist in the future, nor even that he considered that he had done anything wrong, as opposed to mere regret that what he did was found to constitute contempt of court.

He added that Ravindra-Singh being the contemnor was a practicing barrister and solicitor in Fiji and that he never displayed any remorse for his actions. Justice Nanayakkara said Fiji was a democratic state constitutionally based on the rule of law.

“In order to enable the judiciary to discharge its primary duty to maintain a fair and effective administration of justice, it follows that the judiciary must as an integral part of its constitutional function have the power and the duty to enforce its order and to protect the administration of justice against contempt which are calculated to undermine it,” Justice Nanayakkara said.

 

Facebook

“It is quite apparent to me from the unchallenged affidavit evidence of the applicants that Ravindra Singh repeated and persisted in posting posts on his Facebook referring to the applicants, after Justice Seneviratne’s orders were served on him and after committal proceedings were served on him.

“His continuous of the defamatory terms on 31 Facebook posts despite being fully aware of the judgment of Justice Seneviratne, shows his hostility to the court as the means afforded by Government for the administration of justice, contumacy towards the court and towards its judgments and this disobedience is in such a character and in such a manner as to indicate a contempt of court rather than a disregarded of the rights of the adverse party.”

Justice Nanayakkara said Ravindra-Singh never displayed any remorse for his actions. He said the court was entitled to conclude that Ravindra-Singh’s sarcastic statement overridden the court’s ratio and finding in the judgment and that Ravindra-Singh not only persisted but escalated the conduct.

The Judge said the rule of law required that those whose rights were infringed should seek the aid of the court, and respect for the legal process could suffer if those who needed protection failed to get it.

 

Judicial Administration

He added that Ravindra-Singh’s statement was a clear and present danger to judicial administration and if permitted, could shake the confidence of the litigants and the public in the decisions of the court and weaken the spirit of obedience to the law.

The Judge said to deter Ravindra Singh from engaging in like conduct in the future, denounce the conduct future, and serve a warning to others who chose to go down this path.

“The sentence will deter Ravindra-Singh and others minded to emulate him because the sentence is a clarion call that such behaviour will not be tolerated,” Justice Nanayakkara said.

 

He added that there was a strong need to denunciate Ravindra-Singh’s conduct, to especially deter legal practitioners from engaging in such conduct, to generally deter future litigants from engaging in similar conduct and to protect the rule of law, the integrity of the judiciary, and its pronouncements and the administration of justice.

Justice Nanayakkara said the power of courts to punish for contempt was a necessary and integral part of the independence of the judiciary and is absolutely essential to the performance of the duties imposed on them by law.

He said without it, they were mere boards of arbitration whose judgments and decrees would be only advisory. The Civil High Court has issued a bench warrant against Ravindra-Singh.

 

Feedback: ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj



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