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Court Bars Constitution Commission from sitting


PEOPLE'S COALITION GOVERNMENT, FIJI

Court Bars Constitution Commission from sitting with immediate effect Issue No: 387 17 January 2001

The High Court has today barred the regime's Constitution Commission from further sitting or hearing submissions with immediate effect.

Granting an interlocutory injunction sought by the Fiji Labour Party, its President Mrs Jokapeci Koroi and its Secretary Hon. Mahendra Chaudhry, the Lautoka High Court stated that the applicants deserved to be granted an injunction with immediate effect until 16 March 2001 when the case would be brought for mention.

The FLP, Koroi and Chaudhry sought the injunction in light of the High Court ruling that the 1997 Constitution was still in existence. They also sought a court order to stop the Constitution Commission members being paid, and public funds to be spent any further on the Constitution Commission.

The case, brought before Justice Gates, has been labelled by Fiji TV as a landmark case.

Before the substantive hearing on the application for interlocutory injunction began, the regime, through private lawyer Kitione Vuataki, applied for grant of two motions, one being that Judge Gates disqualify himself from hearing the case, and the other being that the court adjourn the case until after the substantive appeal on the Chandrika Prasad case be heard. Both these motions were declined by the Judge. Vuataki was seen being assisted in the Court by Constitution Commission member and terrorist Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure.

The decision means that the regime's Constitution Commission has been stopped from any further sitting, and the members from drawing any further allowances from public funds.

Immediately after the judgment was given, Vuataki told the court that he was instructed to appeal in case the injunction was granted, and that he intended to file the appeal papers tomorrow.

This means that the matter would be brought to the court again tomorrow.

The FLP's lawyer, Vipul Mishra stated that it was in interlocutory injunction and that he was confident that the appeal would be thrown out tomorrow.

END 17 January 2001

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