Court of Appeal to make judgement on notice in the case of Ministry of Education
February 14, 2020 4:45 pm
The Solicitor General Sharvada Sharma
The Suva Court of Appeal will be making a judgment notice.
This is in the appeal case filed by the Education Ministry challenging a decision by the High Court.
The High Court had ruled in favour of Seventh Day Adventist Vatuvonu College stating they have a say in the appointment of the school heads.
The Education Ministry has appealed against the ruling which states there are provisions for religious community or denomination to have a say in the appointment of school heads.
The High Court had ruled the Ministry has the power to appoint heads of schools, and acting positions under the open Merit Recruitment System – but it must be in line with Section 22 (4) of the Constitution.
The Solicitor General Sharvada Sharma while making his submission in court today said that religious beliefs cannot be an occupational requirement for anyone.
Sharma however told the court that there is nothing wrong with the school appointing their own teachers at their own expense.
The provision Section 22 (4) of the Constitution states every religious community or denomination, and every cultural or social community, has the right to establish, maintain and manage places of education whether or not it receives financial assistance from the State, provided that the educational institution maintains any standard prescribed by law.
The Ministry in its appeal has stated they are working in the interest of providing students the highest possible quality of education and are committed to the open-merit recruitment and selection for all teachers.
The Ministry adds it will support faith-based organizations who wish to offer religious teachings, encourage religious values or hold prayers in schools they manage.
They further say they are deeply concerned as the decision provides the basis for unconstitutional religious tests – for individuals hired by the Government and paid by taxpayers.