Parliament is not empowered to deal with criminal acts committed by its members: Mahendra Chaudhry
Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry says he is shocked by the decision of Director Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde that no charges be laid against PM Bainimarama in the Pio Tikoduadua assault case.
“We are advised that the grounds advanced by him in support of the decision are ill-founded and misapplied in this particular case,” said Mr Chaudhry.
“The decision also calls to question the independence of the office of the DPP,” he said.
The disciplinary rules referred to by the DPP are meant for Members of Parliament who commit a breach of parliamentary privilege. It is not meant for those who are alleged to have committed a criminal act.
“The Parliament is not empowered to deal with criminal acts committed by its members,” Mr Chaudhry said.
Section 20 (j) of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act 1965 that the DPP refers to, states: “any person who threatens or assaults a member or an officer of Parliament on account of his conduct as such member or officer …. shall be guilty of an offence and liable to on conviction to a fine not exceeding four hundred dollars or, in default of payment thereof, to imprisonment not exceeding two years or to such imprisonment without the option of a fine or to both such fine and imprisonment.”
“Offences listed in Section 20 of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act are matters for the courts to decide, not the privileges committee or the Parliament,” Mr Chaudhry said.
“By his own admission, the DPP agrees that had the Privileges Committee and Parliament not dealt with the case, there was sufficient evidence for the matter to proceed to court.
“ Mr Pio Tikoduadua has been denied justice in this particular case. He has been penalized twice – first he was assaulted and then he was suspended from Parliament for six months for no fault of his own,” Mr Chaudhry said.