FICAC appeal dismissed

Former Education Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy outside court at one of earlier court appearance. Picture: FT FILE

HIGH Court judge Justice Vinsent Perera yesterday dismissed the appeal made by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) in the case of former Education Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy.

Dr Reddy was acquitted of one count each of bribery and undue influence last December by Chief Magistrate Usaia Ratuvili.

It was alleged that Dr Reddy tried to influence the vote of a school manager by directly conferring to offer a benefit, namely a steady water source for the school.

While delivering his judgment, Justice Perera said the prosecution’s case was entirely based on the statement that was made by the respondent. He said the magistrate in his judgment however accepted what was submitted by the appellant in the written submissions.

He said the elements the prosecution should prove in order to bring a charge under Section 140(2) of the Electoral Act could be identified as the accused gave or conferred/promised or offered to give or confer to another person any property or benefit of any kind in order to influence or affect any vote/candidature/support of or opposition to a candidate/support of or opposition to a candidate or a political party by that other person.

Justice Perera said according to the relevant provisions, the giving, conferring or the promise or offer to give or confer could be either directly or through any person.

Moreover, the above section does not apply in relation to a declaration of public policy or a promise of public action.

The High Court judge said he concurred with the magistrate as there was no evidence to prove that the respondent’s political rights was interfered with and that Dr Reddy did not intend to influence him.