6 February, 2016, 12:00 am
SUVA law firm Munro Leys, representing the now-suspended National Federation Party (NFP), has advised the three members of the party that they have not done anything wrong that should not allow them from attending next Monday’s Parliament sitting.
This followed an advice sought by the suspended party from its lawyer Richard Naidu on a letter written by Speaker of Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni to the party on Thursday that its members had been suspended from attending next week’s Parliament sitting.
In his memorandum of advice to the suspended party leader Professor Biman Prasad on February 4, 2016, Mr Naidu said: “In their view, nothing that has occurred in recent days affects the rights of NFP’s MPs to take their seats in Parliament during the period of NFP’s purported suspension.
“The rights of any MP to take his or her seat in Parliament flow from the Constitution and the Electoral Decree 2014.
“The Political Parties Decree does not restrict any of the rights of MPs of a party suspended for contravening the decree. Section 19(4) says that a suspended party is not entitled to any of the rights and privileges specified under this decree, but there are no such rights.
“Even if it is claimed that such rights exist in the Political Parties Decree, none of these rights relate to whether or not an MP can take his or her seat in Parliament.”
Responding to Mr Naidu’s claims, Dr Luveni said she stood by her statement yesterday that the suspension of the registration of a political party had the effect of suspending that political party and all its members from Parliament.
“Well, the only thing I can say is that they (suspended NFP) got voted into Parliament because of the party they belong to. If they stood as independent, I don’t know whether they would have been able to get a seat in Parliament or not,” she said.
Mr Naidu says Section 27(6) of the Political Parties Decree states that notwithstanding the suspension a person who is member of a political party that has been suspended and is a member of Parliament, shall continue as a member of Parliament for the unexpired term.
“That provision would tend only to reinforce the right of NFP’s MPs to take their seats in Parliament.
“If the Political Parties Decree expressly respects that right in the case of a party suspended for an offence against the Political Parties Decree, it must follow that the same right is respected in the case of a party suspended merely for an (alleged) contravention of the decree (as NFP is).”
The three suspended members of the party — Prof Prasad, Roko Tupou Draunidalo and Prem Singh — have written to Dr Luveni yesterday asking her to explain her legal reasons for not allowing them to attend next Monday’s Parliament sitting.