29 Aug 2002

Former Fiji attorney general says new chief justice has damaged judiciary's reputation

5:14 pm on 29 August 2002

Fiji's former attorney general, Sir Vijay Singh, says the reputation of the country's judiciary has been damaged because the new chief justice, Daniel Fatiaki, has described the composition of cabinet case as non urgent.

The government has for nearly a year refused to include the Labour Party in cabinet in line with a constitutional requirement and has been testing the clause in court.

Sir Vijay says Justice Fatiaki should have taken the opportunity to assemble a Supreme Court to decide the makeup of cabinet.

But the chief justice says there are 12 other pending cases involving ordinary citizens in civil and criminal matters while the constitutional case was not urgent.

Sir Vijay says deciding the makeup of the government as soon as possible is a necessary step towards stability in Fiji.

"whether the government is lawfully sworn under the constitution is an issue whose importance cannot be denied. I'm afraid that the Chief Justice seems to have a really distorted picture of the urgency of this matter and I don't think it does any good for the country, it doesn't do any good for the image of the judiciary."

Sir Vijay Singh