In the Tom Cruise movie, legal eagle Danny Kaffee takes on the U.S. Navy and wins: in the Jagath Karunaratne case versus the regime, the Director of Public Prosecutions is making up the rules as he goes along.
Those following the case and our earlier story will know that Karunaratne and his lawyer, Rajendra Chaudhry, were forced to go back to the court room after Fiji's Chief Magistrate did a u-turn on a decision to allow him to have his passport to travel to Sri Lanka on a $5000 surety.
The hearing in the High Court yesterday afternoon followed Usaia Ratuvili's unusual decision to suspend his own ruling until the Director of Public Prosecutions, Christopher Pryde, had time to formally file against it.
In front of a packed Suva courtroom, Justice Salesi Temo (pictured above left) agreed with Karunaratne's lawyer, Rajendra Chaudhry (pictured above right), the state had not followed procedure saying: "This is like getting hold of me on the streets and asking for a judgement."
Chaudhry and Temo then engaged with Chaudhry saying there had been a clear abuse of process, and that "If this is allowed every time the Magistrates Court grants bail, the State will run to the High Court with an appeal and it could jeopardise the respect given to the Magistrates Court."
Sources say the real drama started, though, when Temo tried to justify the DPP's handling of what is obviously a very critical case for the regime, when he claimed 'a lot of people are trying to leave Fiji without facing trials.'
Chaudhry shot back with: "That is simply because there is no Parliamentary democracy, no fair trials for people and people have been taken to camp and beaten. If I am in their shoes today, I will also leave the country because I know that I would not get a fair trial!"
Sources say Temo tried to shut Chaudhry down but he pushed on with finger raised, saying: "Let me finish and listen! The fact here is that I haven't heard anywhere before this kind of an application allowed before the High Court and this is procedurally wrong."
According to sources the packed courtroom was riveted: "You should have seen the expression of the Judge ... he didn't know where to look or hide. People in the court started laughing and looking at each other in disgust."
Disregarding Chaudhry's argument the application is an abuse of powers by the state, Temo told the court room he would give the DPP another chance to submit its application.
Temo's decision means the regime has until Monday morning to submit a motion with an affidavit before 9am to Chaudhry.
Ironically, the case is then expected to be heard at 2.15pm, less than an hour before the Chief Magistrate, Usaia Ratuvili, is to hear the case he originally suspended on Thursday.
Editor's Note: In a second case yesterday, Rajendra Chaudhry also challenged the state's stance against the sacked public workers, being heard by Justice Angela Wati. He raised hell when prosecutors said the workers were dishonest, by calling into question the appointment of convicted murderer, Francis Kean, as Permanent Secretary of the Public Workers Department. Sources say Wati was forced to bring the court to order.