The tribunal responsible for hearing suspended Chief Justice Kamal Kumar's case has overturned its decision and has now allowed the media into the courtroom.
While delivering his ruling, tribunal chair retired Justice David Ashton-Lewis says the tribunal had considered whether a hearing should be held in public and reached the view the hearing should be held in private.
He says it reached this view after considering the term of Section 111 of the Constitution and the rights and interests of the Chief Justice, complainants and witnesses and the broader interest in the administration of justice in Fiji and the effect of a public hearing on these interests.
Justice Ashton-Lewis says the tribunal has considered the request by Kumar’s counsel and remains concerned as to the effect of holding a hearing in public on those who will appear as witnesses and on the effect on the administration of justice in Fiji.
He says the tribunal has however reached the view that it is prepared to hold the hearing in public as requested by the suspended Chief Justice on the basis that the rights and interests identified can be addressed by orders as to the conduct of the hearing or part of it and the process relating to it and as the publication.
Justice Ashton-Lewis says the holding of the hearing in public will be subject to such orders as the tribunal considers may be required to protect those who give evidence.
The members of the tribunal include Justice Filimoni Jitoko, Justice Jiten Singh and Justice William Calanchini. Kumar is represented by Morris and Laurel Vaurasi.
Kumar was suspended in January this year after complaints of misbehaviour.
The contents of the complaints were put to Kumar by the Prime Minister on the 24th of January 2023.
His responses were received by the Prime Minister on the 27th of January 2023.
The President on the 29th of January informed Kumar that having regard to the nature of some of the matters complained of and the responses, he is suspended from office pending investigation and referral to the tribunal.
The tribunal hearing will be held from the 21st November and will go on for 4 days.
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