25 Jun 2002

Fiji Supreme Court hears appeal from opposition leader today

10:17 am on 25 June 2002

Fiji's Supreme Court will meet today to hear the appeal by opposition leader, Prem Singh, against a High Court decision unseating him from the Nadi Open seat and the opposition leader's position.

Radio Fiji says a panel of three senior overseas judges has been appointed to hear the case.

They are the current and former chief justices of New Zealand and a senior Australian justice.

The President of the Supreme Court, Fiji's chief justice, Sir Timoci Tuivaga, has excluded himself from the case because of the constitutional issues involved.

Mr Singh's appeal is based on the grounds that Justice Anthony Gates validated votes cast by voters who did not express their preferences as required by the constitution and electoral laws.

Mr Singh, who was the only elected MP from the National Federation Party, is arguing that Justice Gates usurped the power of parliament which is the only authority with the power to change the laws of the country.

But Labour Party lawyers are arguing that Justice Gates' decision was a ruling of the Court of Disputed Returns which, under the constitution, cannot be appealed.