- August 31, 2022
The FTUC mourns the loss of a remarkable lawyer, politician and former Leader of the Opposition, Justice Jai Ram Reddy who passed away in Auckland, New Zealand the previous evening.
Born in Lautoka, Justice Reddy qualified as a lawyer in 1960 and was admitted to the Supreme Court of New Zealand and Fiji. Justice Reddy quickly gained prominence as a sought-after criminal lawyer after his return to Fiji. He became a Senator in 1973 and soon thereafter became a household name.
Justice Reddy’s prowess in political and parliamentary debates and oratory quickly propelled him to the leadership of the National Federation Party and he became the party leader and the Leader of the Opposition in 1977. He became the Attorney General after the 1987 elections in the National Federation Party and Labour Party (NFP/Labour) coalition government which was deposed a month later in the 1987 military coup.
But he did not rest. He had faith in the ability of the people to come together and reunite to rebuild the country.
He believed in “multiculturalism and political pluralism”. He worked tirelessly towards the review of the 1990 Constitution. His political skills and belief in listening and dialogue helped in the negotiations during the Constitution review process and forge the momentum that eventually led to the adoption of the much-acclaimed 1997 Constitution. He is often referred to as the lead architect of the Constitution which restored democracy guaranteeing parliamentary representation for all communities of Fiji.
He was a social democrat and a friend of the union movement. In 1998, Justice Reddy opposed government’s attempts to bring about wage restraints and in 1999 opposed corporatization of government entities. He had previously ensured the guaranteeing of fundamental rights including freedom of association, assembly, and speech in the 1997 Constitution. This is indeed one immense accomplishment of a leader dedicated to his country and his people, particularly those of the working class and the underprivileged. Justice Reddy provided a voice to the voiceless, irrespective of their racial or ethnic background. His vision and exerted efforts to bring together both races at a tumultuous time is now engrained in our history, with a firm foundation for harmonious relations that will be nurtured further.
He served briefly as the President of the Fiji Court of Appeal in 2000 but resigned after the abrogation of the 1997 Constitution in May 2000. He was reappointed as the President of the Court of Appeal in January 2002 after the restoration of the Constitution and held the position until April 2003. Justice Reddy also holds the distinction of serving as a Permanent Judge of United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda based in Arusha from 2003 to 2008. His immense contribution to the local and global judiciary is highly commendable, and a ceiling many can only aspire to achieve.
He will be remembered as a political giant, eminent judge, and a great son of Fiji who dedicated his life building on a legacy for generations to savor. The FTUC mourns this huge loss with his widow, Mrs. Chandra Reddy, his family and friends and the people of Fiji. An icon is his own right and a leader like no other.
Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC)