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Court dismisses a constitutional redress application

Court dismisses a constitutional redress application

Wednesday 20/11/2013
The High Court has dismissed a constitutional redress application by a police officer charged with abuse of office.

Meli Sateki brought an application in the High Court claiming the constitutional immunity provision under section 157 of the 2013 Constitution applied to him as a police officer and sought orders that the charge against him be quashed. 

Director of Public Prosecutions, Christopher Pryde, appearing for the State, submitted that the application was fundamentally flawed since the application should have been brought in the civil jurisdiction of the High Court. 

Pryde also argued that any dispute as to charges or evidence or interpretations of law were matters that should properly be handled by the Magistrates Court in the normal course of the criminal proceedings. 

While dismissing the application by the police officer, Judge Paul Madigan said the application was abusive.

The application was brought on behalf of Meli Sateki by his lawyer, Aca Rayawa.

According to section 157 of the 2013 constitution, absolute and unconditional immunity is irrevocably granted to the President, Prime Minister and cabinet ministers, Republic of Fiji Military Forces, the Fiji Police Force, Fiji Corrections Service, judiciary, public service and any public office from any criminal prosecution and from any civil or other liability in any court, tribunal or commission. 

The immunity is granted to any person listed whether in their official, personal or individual capacity.
It covers the period between 5th December 2006 to the first sitting of parliament elected under the 2013 constitution.

However it is clearly stated that the people listed for immunity are not immune from prosecution if they commit certain offences under the Crimes Decree.   

The offences not covered under immunity in the 2013 constitution include corruption, abuse of office, forgery and sexual offences.

Story by: Vijay Narayan



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