Redress application dismissed

Lawyer Aman Ravindra Singh with his client Josaia Waqabaca outside the High Court in Suva yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

Lawyer Aman Ravindra Singh with his client Josaia Waqabaca outside the High Court in Suva yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

THE application for constitutional redress by a Nai Lalakai newspaper letter writer charged with sedition was dismissed and described as abuse of process of the court by High Court judge Justice Thushara Rajasinghe yesterday.

Josaia Waqabaca, through his lawyer Aman Ravindra Singh, had challenged the legality of the charge laid against him on the grounds that his freedom of speech had been violated.

Mr Singh had earlier highlighted in his submission that his client’s letter does not constitute hate speech and that his right to freedom of expression was being violated by the charge laid against him.

He also maintained his position in his submission that he was not challenging the authority of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) nor alleged that the DPP had violated his rights by filing the information.

Justice Rajasinghe in his ruling said it was a vacuous argument as it was clear that the DPP had filed the information pursuant to Section 198(1) of the Criminal Procedure Act, charging the applicant with one count of sedition.

He said he refused the submission made by Mr Singh for the applicant as it had no merit.

Justice Rajasinghe further added that the applicant did not specifically state how his rights had been contravened or likely to be contravened under Section 17(1) of the Fijian Constitution. He said he was satisfied that the notice of motion that was filed by the applicant disclosed no reasonable cause of action in order to invoke the jurisdiction of the court.

Mr Waqabaca is charged along with Fiji Times Ltd general manager and publisher Hank Arts, Fiji Times Ltd with sedition; while Nai Lalakai editor Anare Ravula, and The Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley are charged with aiding and abetting the publication of the said letter that was alleged to have been seditious.

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