‘A-G and lawyers lied’

Lawyer Aman Ravindra-Singh outside the Suva court building during an earlier appearance. Picture: FT FILE

Lautoka-based human rights lawyer Aman Ravindra-Singh says Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and his lawyers lied and misled the High Court in Suva during the committal proceedings against him.

He said this when his application for a permanent stay of proceedings of committal proceedings brought against him by the A-G, was called before High Court judge Justice Jude Nanayakkara yesterday.

Mr Ravindra-Singh was found guilty last week and convicted in the committal proceedings by Justice Nanayakkara for contempt of court for breaching the High Court’s orders made on July 28, 2020, in respect of a defamation claim made against him by the Prime Minister and the A-G for a Facebook posting.

The committal proceedings were adjourned for mitigation and sentencing, but in the meantime, Mr Ravindra-Singh applied for a permanent stay on the proceedings.

Yesterday, Mr Ravindra-Singh said the A-G lied in a supplementary affidavit, saying he had not complied with any of the court’s orders made in 2020.

At that time, the court had ordered he pay the plaintiffs $120,000, issue a public apology on Facebook, remove the Facebook post in question and publish apologies in the print media.

Mr Ravindra-Singh said he took the Facebook post in question down immediately and posted an apology on Facebook.

He also said his public apology was published in both daily newspapers in Fiji in the past three weeks.

Mr Ravindra-Singh said the committal proceedings were an abuse of process as they were instituted to recover money.

He said the court orders were clear, and he had complied with all but one, the payment of $120,000.

He also said committal proceedings could not be used to recover money.

Mr Ravindra-Singh said the court’s order also did not prevent him from using the words “Violent Voreqe and Corrupt Khaiyum” because it would infringe on his right to freedom of expression.

Counsel for the plaintiffs, Gul Fatimah, said Mr Ravindra-Singh subjected himself to the committal proceedings.

His application for a permanent stay, she said, was a desperate attempt to purge his contempt, of which he was still convicted.

She also said no one had the right to call anyone violent or corrupt and that freedom of expression was not an absolute right.

She said the apology in a Facebook post was not genuine because he got the PM and A-G’s names wrong, and that it was a private post on his public account.

Justice Nanayakkara gave them until Friday to file their written submissions, and he would make a ruling on the application on Tuesday.

Sentencing and mitigation will be heard on Tuesday if the ruling is against Mr Ravindra-Singh.

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