Cabinet to refer a Question of Law to the Supreme Court on appointment of Judicial and other Constitutional Officers

Cabinet to refer a Question of Law to the Supreme Court on appointment of Judicial and other Constitutional Officers

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 29/02/2024
Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka

Cabinet has made a referral to the Supreme Court of Fiji concerning the interpretation of section 105(2)(b) of the Constitution, in particular, whether an Independent Legal Services Commission finding in a disciplinary proceeding instituted against a legal practitioner, is consistent with the intended finding of guilt in the constitutional provisions.

Cabinet has decided to do this in compliance with section 91(5) of the Fijian Constitution.

According to section 105(2)(b) of the Constitution, a person is not qualified for appointment as a Judge unless he or she has had not less than 15 years post-admission practice as a legal practitioner in Fiji or in another country prescribed by law, and has not been found guilty of any disciplinary proceeding involving legal practitioners whether in Fiji or abroad, including any proceeding by the Independent Legal Services Commission or any proceeding under the law governing legal practitioners, barristers and solicitors prior to the establishment of the Independent Legal Services Commission.

Cabinet says the provisions of the 2013 Constitution on the disqualification from office for potential members of the Judiciary, and holders of the position of Director for Public Prosecutions and other constitutional offices have been a matter of public discussion and disagreement, including between the Fiji Law Society and the Acting Chief Justice. The Office of the Solicitor General will prepare the necessary application on behalf of Cabinet to the Supreme Court for consideration in the April 2024 Sitting of the Supreme Court.

The Fiji Law Society had also written to Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka last year expressing its concern regarding the planned appointment of Filimoni Vosarogo as Attorney General of Fiji at the time, and requested the Fiji Government to withdraw Vosarogo’s announced appointment as Attorney General.

Society President, Wylie Clarke said the appointment could not be lawfully made.

The Society noted that it is a matter of public record that Vosarogo, as a legal practitioner, pleaded guilty in a number of disciplinary proceedings before the Independent Legal Services Commission.

There were also questions raised about certain judicial appointments and the appointment of the Acting DPP.

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