A 75 year old beneficiary is taking the Fiji National Provident Fund and the illegal attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, to court, to stop any ammendments to the FNPF Act.
David Fowler Burness, who lives at Suva Point with his wife, says he is seeking human rights protection in relation to the proposed review of the FNPF indended to reduce his pension.
He says his human right to live with dignity in old age, his right to protection of his property, his right to social security, and his right to life, all of which the Republic of Fiji, as a member of the United Nations, is compelled to protect, will be violated if the proposed reforms are enacted.
Burgess is being represented by Dr Shaista Shameem of ShameemLaw.
Dr Shameem says her client's application states that the proposed review of the FNPF pension scheme will unfairly discriminate against Mr Burness and will breach the contract between the Fiji National Provident Fund and Mr Burness. She says the fiduciary duty of FNPF towards Mr Burness as a pensioner, as well as FNPF’s contractual obligations towards him, is included in the action as grounds for legal scrutiny by the High Court.
FNPF has said that from this Friday, the illegal regime will enact a new law reducing the pensions of those already receiving benefits.
Dr Shameem says the High Court has told her it will hear her application on July 4th, which will be no use at all if the FNPF Decree comes in on July 1.
She says the illegal Attorney General's Decrees are always non-reviewable, ie the courts can't review them, she suspects her application will be given a certificate of termination, as it has happened to her recently with a case in the Employment Tribunal which was cancelled by the Registry bcause of ERP Decree 21.
Dr Shameem says the FNPF proposal is an outrageous disrespect for the rights of elderly beneficiaries who have contributed so much to Fiji’s economy through their hard work and total dedication to Fiji.
She says that her law firm has made an ancillary application on behalf of Mr Burness for an interim injunction against the Fiji National Provident Fund, the Republic of Fiji, and the Attorney General.
But it still has not heard from the court to hear her ex parte application and doesn't know why there is a hold up, considering the proposed changes are just two days away from being implemented.
Dr Shameem said Mr Burness’ application is a public interest matter of grave significance and it would be foolish of the regime to enact a Decree merely to thwart the desire of Mr Burness, and other pensioners in the same position, to have their legitimate grievances regarding the FNPF properly adjudicated.
In a statement, Dr Shameem urged the regime to let the Court make its decision on the basis of legal issues and not preampt its functions by promulgating a Decree just to frustrate pensioners’ right to be heard by the courts.
Dr Shameem said that she was confident that the High Court would consider her application on its merits as a human rights application.
"The application was made pursuant to the Human Rights Commission Decree No 11 of 2009 and international human rights law, and relies on the common law on human rights, contracts and fiduciary duty of the State."
ShameemLaw has served court papers on the FNPF, the Republic of Fiji and the Attorney General.
Read David Fowler Burness's Affidavit
Read Shameem Law Application.