INDEPENDENT NEWS

Constitution Case Uproar

Published: Tue 14 Nov 2000 02:40 PM
USP Pacific Journalism Online: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/
USP Pasifik Nius: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/nius/index.html
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* See PN earlier reports: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/docs/news/nius3102shoot.html
SUVA: The controversial Fiji Islands civil case challenging the legality of the abrogation of the 1997 multiracial constitution is again causing an uproar within the legal fraternity, reports the Daily Post.
The case is between the Republic of Fiji and the Attorney-General, and one Chandrika Prasad.
Prasad had taken out a writ against the military installed interim administration soon after the May 19 coup claiming that the 1997 constitution was still in place.
Controversy first surrounded the case when the Chief Justice, Sir Timoci Tuivaga, tried to shift the hearing to Suva to be heard by Justice Michael Scott instead of Justice Anthony Gates in Lautoka.
Government applied for a stay notice which was rejected by Justice Gates.
Government then applied for a stay order from the Fiji Court of Appeal.
The application for stay proceedings was set for hearing before Justice Byrne ay 9am on November 3 but because of the mutiny at Nabua army barracks, it could not be heard.
Howver, through a facsimile message on November 8, the parties were informed that the motion for the stay would be heard by Justice Byrne on the morning of November 15.
But on November 10, another message came through from the Registrar's Office saying that the stay proceedings would be heard on November 17 at 2.15pm.
To add to the confusion, another message was faxed through yesterday saying that the matter was to be heard today (November 15) at 2pm.
Lawyers for Prasad, however, wrote back to the registrar, saying they had prior commitments on November 15 and requested that proceedings be heard on November 17 as previously arranged.
But by last night, no word had been heard from the Registrar's Office.
Meanwhile, Lautoka judge Justice Gates was mugged by three thugs at the weekend.
He was assaulted while taking his afternoon walk in Lautoka on Saturday.
Although he was not injured, the thugs allegedly stole his watch and wallet.
Last night lawyers called on the interim government to provide security officers for judges.
"They should be protected if the judiciary is to survive in this country," a senior lawyer said in Suva last night.
+++niuswire

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