Sharvada Sharma’s attorney, Richard Naidu, today confirmed that Sharma refuses to agree to a flawed, unconstitutional and unfair process to end his appointment as Solicitor General without the opportunity to defend himself in an independent tribunal as required by the 2013 Constitution.
Naidu says Munro Leys received instructions from Sharma to challenge in court the grotesque process that led to his suspension without pay and later termination as solicitor general.
Naidu says Sharma’s appointment was terminated without even the pretension of an independent tribunal hearing as required by the Constitution.
He says Sharma was suspended by the President of Fiji on September 20 on the advice of the Judicial Services Commission.
Richard Naidu also confirms that this follows a complaint filed against him by the election supervisor, Mohammed Saneem.
Naidu says the suspension was unpaid.
He says it is against the law (and, according to Sharvada Sharma, until recently a member of the Judicial Services Commission, contrary to the practice of the Commission) to suspend any civil servant without pay.
Naidu says the first thing the Commission should have done was get Sharma’s response to the complaint.
Munro Leys’ partner claims the Judicial Services Commission did nothing for more than seven weeks.
He then said, on Thursday, November 4, a public holiday and religious Diwali, that a police officer gave Sharvada Sharma a letter from the Commission.
Naidu said the letter had 31 detailed questions.
He says he demanded Sharma answer these questions in two days, which is Saturday, November 6 at 4 p.m.
Richard Naidu says it is indeed a working day to respond.
He says that as a former commissioner Sharvada Sharma knows the standard response time given to any officer complained of is at least 14 days, if not longer.
Munro Leys’ partner says that on behalf of Sharma, they responded to the Commission letter on Friday 5 November. They pointed out that the response time was absurd and unfair. They said Sharma needed time to review the questions, take legal advice and prepare a detailed response. They offered to respond within eight working days.
Richard Naidu says this offer was rejected.
He says the Commission told them again that Sharvada Sharma must respond by Saturday.
Naidu says they responded to the Commission on Saturday, November 6 that Sharma has denied all allegations in the complaint and would provide a detailed response if given a reasonable time, but Sharma could not and would not rush her response just to that the Commission can “tick a box”.
He says Sharma heard nothing more until Wednesday, November 10, when he received a letter from the president asking him to end his appointment for “misconduct.”
Naidu said the president’s letter stated that failure to respond to the Commission was “tantamount to cumulative misconduct.”
Naidu says that under Articles 112 and 116 of the Constitution, the Solicitor General can only be removed from office after a proper investigation (assuming there is a proper complaint in the first place) by an independent tribunal. .
Richard Naidu says Sharma cannot be fired when he denied the allegations, simply for failing to respond to a letter from the Commission in the way the Commission wants him to respond.
Munro Leys’ partner says the whole point of the judicial process under the Constitution is to avoid such arbitrary dismissals.
Richard Naidu says Sharvada Sharma has served in the attorney general’s office for the past 24 years, including 10 as solicitor general.
Appointment of Sharvada Sharma as Solicitor General of Fiji ends
No confirmation as to whether a court will consider previous misconduct allegation against Sharma
By: Vijay Narayan / Naveel Krishant
There is still no confirmation as to whether a court will consider the earlier misconduct allegation against Sharvada Sharma whose appointment as Fiji’s solicitor general was terminated earlier this week.
A statement on the government’s Facebook page says that on November 10, 2021, the then President of Fiji, on advice from the Judicial Services Commission and in accordance with the Fijian Constitution, terminated Sharma’s appointment.
Sharma was suspended by former President Jioji Konrote more than 7 weeks ago after an allegation of misconduct.
The government statement which was released late last night contains no details on whether a tribunal will still be in place to examine the misconduct allegation against Sharma.
Under article 112 (3) of the 2013 Constitution, if the President, acting on the advice of the Judicial Services Commission, considers that the question of the dismissal of any judicial officer appointed by the Judicial Services Commission judicial proceedings must be investigated, then the President, acting on the advice of the Judicial Services Commission, appoints, in the event of suspected misconduct – a tribunal composed of a president and at least 2 other members, chosen from those who hold or have held high judicial office in Fiji or in another country.
Section 104 (1) states that the Judicial Services Commission is composed of the Chief Justice, who shall be the Chairman; the President of the Court of Appeal; the Permanent Secretary in charge of justice; a lawyer appointed by the President on the advice of the Chief Justice after consultation with the Chief Justice with the Attorney General and who has at least 15 years of practice after admission; and has not been convicted of any disciplinary proceedings involving legal practitioners, whether in Fiji or abroad, including any proceedings initiated by the Independent Legal Services Commission or any proceedings under the law governing legal practitioners, lawyers and notaries before the creation of the Independent Legal Services Commission; and one person, not being a lawyer, appointed by the President on the advice of the Chief Justice after consultation with the Chief Justice with the Attorney General.
Asked by fijivillage early last month about the tribunal’s appointment, the chairman of the Judicial Services Commission, Chief Justice Kamal Kumar, said the tribunal is appointed by the president and, as such, the president is unable to comment on this.
He previously said on September 21 that he could not comment on who made the misconduct allegation against Sharma, but a tribunal will now be appointed by the president to hear the case.
Fijivillage sent questions to the secretary of the president’s office from September 21 this year, but they made no comment.
We asked when the court will be appointed to consider the misconduct allegation against Sharvada Sharma, if the Bureau can confirm the details of the allegation, what the process was after the suspension and whether Sharma was suspended with or without. salary and benefits. We are currently trying to talk to Sharvada Sharma.