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October 12, 2012 12:00:00 AM
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Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry today questioned the independence and authority of Fiji’s judiciary system.

In his party's final submission to the Constitutional Commission, Chaudhry said the independence and authority of the judiciary have been "seriously compromised by the promulgation of the Administration of Justice Decrees 9 and 10 of 2009”.

He submitted that these decrees should be repealed.

“Judges and magistrates are now appointed by the President on the advice of the Judicial Services Commission following consultation with the Prime Minister and the Attorney General,” Chaudhry said.

He said even magistrates cannot be appointed unless the Judicial Services Commission consults with the Prime Minister and the Attorney General.

“The authority of the courts has been circumscribed to exclude from its jurisdiction any application or matter challenging any decision or action of the regime – its ministers and officials etc - retrospective to 5th December 2006 and all actions pending in the courts in such matters were discontinued under the decrees,” Chaudhry said.

He said the allegation of interference with and the manipulation of the judiciary by the Attorney General as alleged in a petition dated July 12, 2012 to the PM by the former president of the Fiji Court of Appeal, Justice William Marshall, has shaken the confidence of the people in the judiciary.

“We are not saying that the allegations are true but the truth of the matter can only be established after an independent investigation,” Chaudhry added.

He also added that the legislature should also require judges and magistrates to deliver their judgments/ decisions within six months of the date in which the hearings concluded.

“There have been cases where judgments remained undelivered for very long periods (years in fact) thus delaying and denying justice to the parties,” he added.

By Indrani Krishna

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