Vijendra Prakash [left] with his lawyer, Siddharth Nandan [middle]
Former Fiji First Member of Parliament Vijendra Prakash should not be regarded as a dishonest person, and his offenses should be regarded as anomalies in his life.
This was highlighted by Prakash’s lawyer, Siddharth Nandan, during the sentencing hearing in the Suva Anti-Corruption High Court.
Both counsel presented their oral and written submissions in court today.
The former MP was convicted of one count each of providing false information to a public servant and obtaining a financial advantage.
The court heard that he falsely stated that his permanent place of residence was in Waidracia, Vunidawa, Nabuni, Naluwai, Naitasiri, and obtained $33,670 between August 2019 and March 2020.
Nandan said that his client is 67 years old and has spent a significant portion of his life doing social work.
He says Prakash contributed to the people of Vunidawa Naitasiri, and this is not common.
Nandan also highlighted that Prakash was the only MP who resigned from Parliament following his charges and also resigned from religious bodies after his conviction.
He says this marks him out from the other cases and that he deserves leniency and mercy from the court.
The defense counsel also highlighted that Prakash did not make any parliamentary claims after April 2020.
He also asked for a suspended sentence.
Prosecution Lawyer Rashmi Aslam says while resigning from Parliament does attract certain merit but cannot be a mitigating factor.
Aslam said that if a deterrent sentence is not imposed, the parliament’s democracy will erode.
He says Prakash was a member of parliament and was expected to uphold the law.