The Tribunal tasked to investigate the suspended Chief Justice Kamal Kumar has reached a decision to hold the hearing in public, as requested by Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo.
This however will be on the basis that the rights and interests identified can be addressed by orders as to the conduct of the hearing (or parts of it) and the process relating to it.
In his ruling, retired Justice David Aston-Lewis ruled that the holding of the hearing in public will be subject to such orders as the tribunal may be required to protect those who give evidence.
Justice Aston-Lewis said the documents and evidence have been exchanged under the procedural directions given by the tribunal.
He said the tribunal directs that all documents and evidence exchanged and filed in the investigation process to date (and that may be exchanged and filed before the hearing) shall remain confidential to the parties and their advisers and shall not be published or disclosed to any third party, and that there shall be no disclosure or publication identifying any complainant or the content of any complaint.
“The tribunal further directs that each of the Chief Justice’s witnesses provide a statutory declaration of the evidence that they will give within seven days.”
“Yesterday, counsel for the suspended Chief Justice sought to file further expert evidence and indicated that the witness would be available for examination remotely. The tribunal will accept this evidence, although it was tendered outside the timetable set,” Justice Aston-Lewis said.
The tribunal has been appointed to enquire into the complaints against Kumar under Section 111 of the Constitution.
Under the terms of its appointment, the tribunal has been given powers to regulate its own procedure.
Kumar is represented by KC Anthony Morris and Suva Lawyer Laurel Vaurasi while KC Peter David acts as Counsel Assistant to the Tribunal.
The matter has been adjourned to 21 November 2023 for hearing.