FLS responds to A-G’s lawyer

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Richard Naidu leaves the High Court in Suva yesterday. Picture: IAN CHUTE

What is so offensive about the Fiji Law Society (FLS) intervening in the contempt of court proceedings against Richard Naidu?

This was the question asked by FLS counsel Adish Narayan while responding to the A-G’s lawyer, Gul Fatima’s submissions during the hearing of the FLS intervener application in the High Court yesterday.

Mr Narayan told High Court judge Justice Jude Nanayakkara that FLS was intervening in the public interest and would be independent – and will “not end up in the war” between the parties. “Why do they find it so offensive, is it because, perhaps, they have some other motive here?” Mr Narayan asked.

Mr Narayan said public interest emanates from the importance of the matter because there were contempt proceedings before the court, regardless of what was deposed in affidavits to the court and whether any of the parties – or the court – agreed with what was said. “The fact of the matter, at the end of the day, is that there is a contempt proceeding before the court.

“Seriously, to say there is no public interest in that, what conduct, what constitutes contempt, what is likely to be contempt? “Are we seriously saying that this has no public interest?

“The public are the people who will be charged if they overstep the mark.”

Citing the 2012 Citizens Constitutional Forum (CCF) case, where the CCF and Rev Akuila Yabaki were found guilty of contempt of court, he quoted the presiding judge as saying there was a “thin line” which had to be defined – which was the basis of FLS’s intervention in the proceedings.

Justice Nanayakkara asked Mr Narayan why FLS didn’t intervene in previous contempt of court proceedings, including lawyer Aman Ravindra-Singh’s.

Mr Narayan replied that FLS had the right to intervene in such matters under the Legal Practitioners Act and whether it did so or not did not mean it waived its right to do so.

The matter will be called again on Wednesday for a ruling on FLS’s motion to intervene.

Mr Naidu’s applications for leave to appeal against an earlier ruling refusing his application to cross examine the A-G and have an oral hearing of his setting aside application and a subsequent ruling refusing the setting aside application will both be heard by the Court next Monday.

Mr Naidu is also seeking a stay of all proceedings until his appeals are heard by the Court of Appeal.

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