Fiji Labour Party Leader Fails In Attempt To Contest 2018 Election

Former PM Chaudhry withdraws case challenging constitutionality of preventing him from running again

By Jyoti Pratibha

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, July 26, 2017) – Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry and Party member Karam Bidesi’s application for orders to enable them contest the 2018 general elections failed in court yesterday.

The two had filed an application in the Suva High Court challenging the provisions of the Constitution which bars them from contesting the next general elections.

After their lawyer Anand Singh withdrew the matter, Judge Justice David Alfred ordered that the matter be struck out and the duo pay State and the Attorney-General $2000 [US$987] in court costs.

Mr Chaudhry and Mr Bidesi had filed an application in court challenging the provisions of the Fijian Constitution which bars them from contesting the general elections due to their criminal conviction.

Section 56— (2) (g) of the Fijian Constitution states that: A person may be a candidate for election to Parliament only if the person— (g) has not, at any time during the eight (8) years immediately before being nominated, been convicted of any offence under any law for which the maximum penalty is a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more.

Their application claimed that provisions in the Constitution were unconstitutional.

When the matter was called earlier, on July 18, Solicitor-General Sharvada Sharma had submitted that the application be struck out on the grounds that the Courts had no jurisdiction and the application did not have any reasonable cause of action.

Yesterday, lawyer for the two, Mr Singh sought time to file an application seeking an adjournment. When this was refused by Justice Alfred, Mr Singh asked that the matter be stood down.

When the matter was called again, Mr Singh withdrew the substantive application filed by Mr Chaudhry and  Mr Bidesi.

Justice Alfred ordered that the matter be withdrawn and struck out and ordered Mr Chaudhry and Mr Bidesi to pay the State and the Attorney-General court costs of $2000 [US$987].

Edited by Karalaini Waqanidrola

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