Acting Chief Justice has confirmed the matter relating to an acquittal granted by Nadi Magistrate was handed to High Court Judge for review.
Justice Kamal Kumar says under Section 260 of the Criminal Procedure Act the decision of Magistrate Siromi Turaga has been set aside on the grounds that the accused did breach the curfew and the orders were issued by the Health Ministry.
Magistrate Turaga acquitted three men who breached curfew, stating the charges were unlawful because the Prime Minister does not have the powers to impose movement restrictions under the Public Health Act 2020.
Justice Kumar says the magistrate’s ruling is based on what can be described as a technical error in the wording of the charges which referred to a directive from the Prime Minister rather than the Health Minister.
Justice Vincent Perera has set aside the order made by the Resident Magistrate on the grounds that the charge did say that the accused failed to comply with section 69 (1) (C) of the Public Health Act 1935 Regulation of Public Health (Infectious Disease Regulation, 2020).
The second ground is that orders were issued by the Ministry of Health.
He also stated that the Magistrate should have allowed prosecution to amend the charge by deleting ‘Prime Minister’ to ‘Minister for Health’.
The third ground is that the implementation of curfew orders was approved by Minister for Health and Medical Services, notice of which was given by the PS for Health via Extraordinary Gazette published on April 4th.
The initial matter will be called again in the Nadi Magistrates Court on 21st April.