High Court Judge Justice Riyaz Hamza has dismissed an application filed by Aliz Pacific Chartered Accountants and Doctor Nur Bano Ali against the Auditor General and Attorney General.
Aliz Pacific and Doctor Nur Bano Ali had sought an injunction restraining the Auditor General or his agents from publishing any reports pertaining to Aliz Pacific and Doctor Ali in relation to the restructure of Rewa Dairy Cooperative Company Limited, the court to order that the Auditor General remove those parts of the 2010 Auditor General’s reports that refer to Aliz Pacific and Doctor Ali and the restructure at Rewa Dairy, the court to grant an injunction that parts of the 2010 Auditor General’s Report that are subject to litigation be removed or blacked out while the litigation is pending, a declaration that the Auditor General has defamed Aliz Pacific and Doctor Ali, the court orders that the Auditor General render a public apology to Aliz Pacific and Doctor Ali and the court award general and special damages to Aliz Pacific and Doctor Ali.
Justice Hamza has dismissed the action filed by Aliz Pacific and Doctor Ali as he says that tenders were not called for the restructure of the Rewa Dairy Cooperative Company Limited.
The judge says the Rewa Dairy Cooperative Company Board was informed by a representative of Aliz Pacific Consultants in a board meeting on 17th May, 2010 that Government through the Ministry of Industry and Trade had appointed Aliz Pacific's consultancy firm to implement the restructure of the company.
Justice Hamza also says that it has been agreed by parties that the Government of Fiji paid Aliz Pacific $562,500 including VAT of $62,500 for the services rendered pursuant to the Memorandum of Agreement.
Justice Hamza says the statement that the Government did pay Aliz Pacific $562,500 in 2010 in consultancy fees, is factually correct.
He says the next issue to determine is as to whether a tender must be called for the procurement of goods, services or works valued at $30,001 and more.
Justice Hamza says the 2010 Audit Report has made reference to Section 11 of Finance Instructions 2010.
He says the act that a tender must be called for the procurement of goods, services or works valued at $30,001.00 and more is based on the Finance Instructions 2010.
The High Court Judge says he agrees with the Auditor General's assertion that the statements were statements of facts and were true in substance and in fact.
He says the comments in the statement were based on the said statement of facts and can be considered as fair comments on a matter of public interest.
Justice Hamza says the Auditor General also submits that the said statements and comments were not published maliciously or with any malicious intent.
The judge says that having considered all the evidence as a whole, he is of the opinion that Aliz Pacific and Doctor Nur Bano Ali have failed to establish on a balance of probabilities that the statements and words are defamatory and were published maliciously by the Auditor General.
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