Fiji's suspended Chief Justice Kamal Kumar dies just before tribunal

November 25, 2023

Kamal Kumar the Chief Justice of Fiji from 2019 to 2023 died on Nov. 21.

It has been confirmed to local News by senior legal sources that Chief Justice Kumar passed away yesterday as a result of an unspecified medical ailment, as Fijivillage reported.

On the 29th of January of this year, Kumar was informed that he was suspended, due to the nature of some of the matters addressed in his case and the allegations brought against him. He was suspended from office awaiting investigation and referral to the tribunal.

His hearing before the tribunal was scheduled to begin on the day of his death; however, the case was postponed to a later date as a result of the fact that three crucial witnesses were unable to appear in court due to their respective medical problems.

As a result of allegations of inappropriate behavior, President William Katonivere decided to suspend Kumar from his position in January of this year.

Family's Response

The news of the chief justice's passing reached his family on Tuesday afternoon, and they have stated that they were completely taken aback by the information, according to the Fiji Times.

According to his younger brother Ajesh Kumar, the former chief judge never disclosed that he had a medical condition.

“All the time he was fine and not discussing any medical condition with us,” he said.

“But there was a problem with his heart. We were really shocked when he passed away because I had talked to him the day he died (Tuesday morning), and he said he would recover in a day or two. And by 3:30 pm he had passed on.”

Kumar's Background

Kumar attended the Queensland University of Technology in Australia in order to earn his Bachelor of Law degree. After working as a lawyer in Australia and Fiji, he was appointed to the civil division of the High Court in 2013.

He assumed the role of the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission's leader in September 2018.

Additionally, until 2012, he presided over the Lavoka Branch of the Dakshina India Andhra Sangam Fiji for two consecutive terms.

After the retirement of Anthony Gates in April 2019, he was promoted to the role of acting chief justice. He was subsequently sworn in as the permanent chief justice on August 6, 2021.

The burial service and funeral for the late justice will take place at the Tavakubu cemetery in Lautoka on Monday, which is also where he will be laid to rest.

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