March 06, 2007

Justice Betrayed

By Anonymous,
Special to Intelligentsiya

Yesterday’s Fiji Sun of 5 March purports to publish extracts of the minutes of the 15 January 2007 meeting of the Judicial Services Commission (“the Commission”) chaired by Justice Nazhat Shameem under Victor Lal’s byline. It was this meeting that appointed Justice Gates as Acting Chief Justice. Assuming for the sake of argument it is an accurate reflection of the proceedings, several issues need to be considered.

It was the first meeting of the Commission since the forced removal on leave of Chief Justice Fatiaki by the military on 2 January 2007. Yet according to these Minutes, Justice Shameem contented herself with dealing with the need to appoint an Acting Chief Justice in the place of Chief Justice Fatiaki. His arbitrary removal some two weeks before appears to have made little impression on her, not to mention its implications for the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. The only passing reference she makes to the latter is that the next meeting (presumably with the ACJ present), could then decide whether to ask the CJ to return. She appeared more concerned by the need for a temporary replacement than with the illegality of the Chief Justice’s removal.

Justice Shameem justified her convening and chairing of the Commission on the basis of an opinion tendered by one Gerard McCoy QC. Justice Shameem is as familiar with the provisions of the Constitution as any constitutional lawyer. She ought to have known there was no specific provision in the Constitution authorizing her to chair the Commission meeting in the Chief Justice’s absence. The point is that nowhere in the Constitution does it enable the senior substantive Puisne Judge to preside over the Commission in the absence of the Chief Justice. McCoy’s opinion can only have reached that conclusion by either relying on the common law and/or, reading into the Constitution various inferences to achieve a strained result. For Justice Shameem to proceed in reliance on Gerard McCoy’s opinion reflected on her judgment. For she was doing so in the knowledge that her senior colleague had been removed from office by force. Nonetheless, she proceeded undeterred and apparently unconcerned by the aid and comfort she was giving the usurpers, which was sealed with a telephone call to the Interim Attorney-General.

According to these purported Minutes, Justice Shameem was supported by the President of the Fiji Law Society, Devanesh Sharma. If the minutes are to be taken at face value, he apparently never raised the issue of the Chief Justice’s removal by the military. Neither did he see it fit to question the propriety of Justice Shameem’s actions in presiding over the Commission meeting, but readily accepted the McCoy opinion justifying Justice Shameem’s participation. Mr Sharma appeared only too ready to endorse the appointment of either Justices Gates or Shameem as Acting Chief Justice. It did not appear to concern him that this had been precipitated by the actions of the military. That any endorsement of an Acting Chief Justice would amount to collaboration appears to have been lost on him.

The purported Minutes of the Judicial Services Commission meeting of 15 January 2007 make for interesting reading. For someone not aware of the setting, they seem harmless enough. However, it is this context that conveys the enormity of the Commission’s actions.

In one brief moment, before the constitutionality of events post 5 December 2006 had yet to be determined, the senior substantive Puisne Judge and the President of the Law Society agreed to an acting replacement of the illegally suspended Chief Justice, with the concurrence of the invalidly appointed Chairman of the Public Service Commission. With Justice Gates acceptance of the Acting Chief Justiceship, the complicity of some on the bench and at the bar was complete.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I freaked when Devanesh Sharma was made Fiji Law Society President ahead of the most trusted one Richard Naidu. How could the legal eagles of this country ever vote for a ghandhu like Devanesh? Just shows how whooped most of our legal eagles are right up to the likes of Judge Shameem and that Ghu-Ghurasian Judge Gates. Everyone knows that Devanesh is a big I love me and don't rock the boat kinda guy. Hello, he became a converted military puppet after they visited him at home and threatened to burn his newly-built palaceous home on the hill. So, forget about giving CJ his second thought, he is one of those military shadowy figure advisor, the preak!

Liberty said...

I was quite stunned when I first read the contents of the chamber meeting between Judge Shameem, Davenesh and PSC chairman.

Whilst I do not support the illegal and forced removal of CJ Fatiaki, I am quite curious as to how these chamber minutes got out to Victor Lal in the UK and subsequently to the media in the 1st place?

Anonymous said...

Equally stunned as the other two bloggers who have posted under this heading. Its a wonder that Justice Shameem can sit straight-faced and justify her chairing the JSC meeting let alone quietly justify the removal of the CJ!

And for the President of the FLS to sit there and quietly concur with her views on the matter --- well that was something else! And to even consider eliciting an opinion prior to this meeting from a Mr Blank shows that there was connivance to remove the CJ and further to appoint Gates as CJ. Of course, and predictable enough the cases that appear before Gates are from HRC, Rajendra Chaudhary and very soon Mahen Chaudhary and his band of cohorts asking for compensation when the coffers are virtually empty!

Keep The Faith said...

And right on cue....Vuala!!

The AG's second momma enters --- it was inevitable that her hidden hand would be revealed to all and sundry....it does get a bit tedious having to watch your back while inconspicuously trying to do the cloak and dagger stuff doesn't it justice shameem?

Unless one is a psychopath, human nature will always permit a human frailty "slip"....Cest la Vie...and no one knows this better than this avid voyeur who apparently enjoys peeking into lives from the bench.

Anonymous said...

And who is this Gerard McCoy QC, anyway? And what is so special about him that Justice Shameem and the President of the Fiji Law Society were so unquestioningly receptive to his particular interpretation of the constitution and advice at the expense of the rights and freedom of the citizens of Fiji and the sacrifice of justice ...that they did not see the need to seek advice from other constitutional experts before making such a vital decision, one that has impacted so negatively on the nation, let alone the reputation and credibility of the these learned people themselves?

Anonymous said...

The bunch of idiots...how about they stop trying to use the Law and the constitution as a excuse for their nutcracker deeds and realize that to people like me[the grassroots] we dont care about all your hiding behind the law and your viavia want to be judge, come down low love, remember the taller you are the harder you fall

Anonymous said...

Anyone can tell me whether Justice Shameem is a relation of that fraud at FHRC(Shaista Shameem)?

Anonymous said...

Ah yes anonymous -- they are sisters.

Keep The Faith said...

Yes anon -- they are sisters.

Anonymous said...

They are bhainis! LOL! Very smart sisters one must add. It's the military who is being made a fool by them.

Anonymous said...

To: keep the faith.

It figures....

Anonymous said...

To all those who r suffering lets join hands in prayer..and God will hear our prayer...GOD IS WATCHING!! He sees each tear that falls!! and hear us when we call!! so DON'T LOOSE HOPE!! HAVE FAITH!!
JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL.... If not on earth wait for the JUDGEMENT DAY Where everybody will be answerable to their own actions....!!

Anonymous said...

Hey people you wanna so something to help this nation? If u have a mobile fone, throw it away. This coup is to save the Shameem family people. Judge Shameem's husband the owner of Vodafone has been prying into people's private conversations and recording them. This is confidential information received from within their walls that they do monitor calls on prominent people and suspects which means they probably also monitored Fatiaki's. Why else do you think Frank is kowtowing to this two sisters? They have information that can be used in a court of law and only if they fail will they use this as a last resort but guess what? If this happens it will also mean that the company will lose credibility because of betraying client confidentiality. So when they knew that Qarase was opening up the mobile comm market they acted by whispering private and confidential things in Frank's ears to necessasitate a coup which in disguise serves the purpose of also saving Vodafone, the family company. That explains why Frank is surrounded by their people. For all we know they probably got it in on Frank as well which is why he's so pliable to their wishes. THROW UR MOBILE AWAY!!!!