Pilots’ judicial review bid dismissed

National

By DEMAS TIEN
A three-judge Supreme Court bench has dismissed eight appeals by former Air Niugini pilots regarding their termination last September.
Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika, Justice Ellenas Batari and Justice Berna Joan Collier unanimously dismissed the appeals filed by captains Joseph Kumasi, Boris Ageda, Vincent Tongia, Benjamin Lopa, Norman Daniel, Elijah Yuangi, David Seken and Abel Kanego on the grounds that their termination was based on private law and could not be challenged via a judicial review.
Kumasi, Ageda, Tongia, Lopa and Daniel had employment contracts, and Yuangi, Seken and Kanego were employed pursuant to an industrial award.
The court ruled that there was no evidence that the employment relationship between Air Niugini and the pilots was founded in statute.
“In our view, the appellants have not demonstrated any public interest relevant to them in seeking judicial review arising from the non-specific application of broad-ranging industrial legislation,” the court ruled.
The appeals stemmed from a national court decision which dismissed their judicial review case on Feb 7.
Presided by Justice Colin Makail, the Waigani National Court found that the pilots’ employment was not governed by statute.
The pilots, through their lawyer Moses Murray, filed a notice of motion in the Supreme Court on March 2 to challenge the national court decision.
The Supreme Court ruled against the pilots on Friday and dismissed their appeals with costs.
The court heard that the pilots were terminated on disciplinary grounds following a refusal to undertake second medical checks required by Air Niugini after they failed to attend work due to claimed medical conditions.

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