Saneem refuses to comment after Richard Naidu revealed early last month that action was taken against Sharvada Sharma after a complaint by Saneem

Saneem refuses to comment after Richard Naidu revealed early last month that action was taken against Sharvada Sharma after a complaint by Saneem

By Vijay Narayan , Shanil Singh
Wednesday 15/12/2021
Sharvada Sharma, Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem and Sharvada Sharma’s lawyer, Richard Naidu.

Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem has refused to make any comments after Sharvada Sharma’s lawyer, Richard Naidu revealed early last month that action was taken against Sharma after a complaint by Saneem.

When approached by fijivillage on what was the complaint about, Saneem said he will not make any comments.

Meanwhile Richard Naidu is yet to confirm when they will take their planned legal action.

Naidu confirmed last month that Sharvada Sharma refuses to accept a flawed, unconstitutional and unfair process to terminate his appointment as Solicitor General without being given the opportunity to defend himself before an independent tribunal as the 2013 Constitution requires.

Naidu says Munro Leys has received instructions from Sharma to challenge in court the farcical process that led to his suspension without pay and later termination as Solicitor General.

Naidu says Sharma's appointment has been terminated without even the pretence of a hearing before an independent tribunal as the Constitution requires.

He says Sharma was suspended by the President of Fiji on 20th September on the advice of the Judicial Services Commission.

Richard Naidu also confirms that this followed a complaint against Sharma by the Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem. Naidu says the suspension was without pay.

He says it is contrary to law (and, according to Sharvada Sharma, until recently a Judicial Services Commission member, contrary to the Commission’s practice) to suspend any public servant without pay.

Naidu says the first thing the Commission should have done was to get Sharma’s response to the complaint. The Munro Leys partner says the Judicial Services Commission did nothing for more than seven weeks.

He says then, on Thursday 4th November, the Diwali religious and public holiday, a Police officer delivered to Sharvada Sharma a letter from the Commission.

Naidu says the letter had 31 detailed questions.

He says it demanded that Sharma respond to these questions in two days – that is, by Saturday 6th November at 4pm.

Richard Naidu says this is effectively one working day to respond.

He says as a former Commission member, Sharvada Sharma knows that the standard response time given to any officer the subject of a complaint is at least 14 days, if not longer.

The Munro Leys partner says on Sharma’s behalf, they responded to the Commission’s letter on Friday 5th November. They pointed out that the time-frame for response was absurd and unfair. They said Sharma needed time to consider the questions, take legal advice and prepare a detailed response. They offered to respond within eight working days.

Richard Naidu says this offer was rejected.

He says the Commission told them again that Sharvada Sharma must reply by Saturday.

Naidu says they replied to the Commission on Saturday 6th November that Sharma denied all the allegations in the complaint and would provide a detailed response if given a reasonable time however Sharma could not and would not rush his response just so the Commission could “tick a box”.

He says Sharma heard nothing more until Wednesday 10th November when he was delivered a letter from the President to terminate his appointment for “misbehaviour”.

Naidu says the letter from the President said that failure to reply to the Commission was “tantamount to cumulative misbehaviour”.

Naidu says under sections 112 and 116 of the Constitution, the Solicitor General can only be removed from office after a proper inquiry (assuming that there is a proper complaint in the first place) by an independent tribunal.

Richard Naidu says Sharma cannot be dismissed when he has denied the allegations, merely for failing to respond to a Commission letter in the way that the Commission wants him to respond.

The Munro Leys partner says the whole point of the tribunal process under the Constitution is to avoid arbitrary dismissals of this kind.

Richard Naidu says Sharvada Sharma has served in the office of the Attorney General for the last 24 years, 10 of those as Solicitor General.

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