Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Illegal Fiji CJ Challenged in Court

Lawyers challenge Chief Justice

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

THE Fiji Law Society has challenged the appointment of Justice Anthony Gates as acting Chief Justice following the removal of Daniel Fatiaki from office, saying the action of the Judicial Services Commission was illegitimate.

Society president Devanesh Sharma said they had no choice but to file for legal clarification over the matter instead of an independent opinion.

His comments follow an earlier statement by interim Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum questioning the society's motive in filing legal action against Justice Gates' appointment and Justice Nazhat Shameem as the appointing authority.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said on Sunday "we must accept reality"and focus on the future. In his call to all stakeholders of the country, he said there should not be any disruption to the day-to-day functions of the Government, the judiciary and legal system.

"We must start thinking as a nation state,"he said.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the European Union had initially wanted Justice Fatiaki reinstated but changed after hearing the explanation from the interim Government.

He said LAWASIA had accepted the interim Government's explanation on the need to appoint a tribunal to study the independence of the judiciary.

He said the names of members of the tribunal were ready to be forwarded to the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, by June 15.

"The Fiji Law Society has done nothing about it. Now it is putting in the judicial review. What is its objective? What is it going to achieve? Does it want the whole judicial process to come to a standstill?

"The EPG has shown the way forward. The day-to-day functions must not be strangled. The Judicial Services Commission has been doing active work but the Fiji Law Society has not attended the past few meetings. The society has not been stopped from attending its (JSC) meetings,"said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.

He said in a move to work with the society he wrote to Mr Sharma but received no response.

"We are trying to work together with stakeholders. The views of justice cannot be stopped because citizens of this country deserve better. It beats me,"Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Mr Sharma said yesterday a writ had been served on Justice Shameem as head of the Judicial Services Commission.

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