By HEZRON KISING
NEWLY appointed Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika has set his priorities on engaging part-time judges, speeding up court processes of mediations and establishing a way to deal with landowner issues.
Sir Gibbs said the priority areas would enable the flow of court processes in his term.
He made the remarks in front of his deputy Justice Ambeng Kandakasi, fellow judges and magistrates and senior lawyers at a judiciary ceremonial seating on Friday.
“I pay tribute to those former CJs who have passed and thank former CJ Sir Salamo Injia for his massive contribution in the judicial production and infrastructure development in his term,” Sir Gibbs said.
“The work for a CJ will only materialise with meaningful consultation and collaboration with every organisation that supports it (judiciary system) and my aim is to do just that.”
The main unresolved issue was delayed judgment, when a reserved judgment remains pending for a long time.
“We have to find ways to address this issue of long delaying of court judgments in our courts,” he said.
“Secondly, the long list of cases can be resolve if we have more judges. One of the main reasons is the lack of interest by experienced practising lawyers to become judges due to lack of service time.
“The judiciary would consider deploying senior lawyers to become part-time judges to address the issue of a long list of cases and its delays. Those part-time judges can later go back to the bar as lawyers once their term is completed.
“Thirdly, another priority area would be to restructure a special track to address resource sector management and mediation of resource owners.
This will then help settle landowners’ disputes and grievances faster than the current phase we are on.”
Sir Gibbs said some landowners died without benefiting from their share of resources so it would be proper to set up the track to look at cases that involved natural resources.
“Finally, the issue of election petition cases still remain a controversial area for judicial determination,” he said.
“There is a concern now that the rules and decisions have failed to establish reality but instead developed a ridge towards justice.
“Many genuine cases have been struck out because the petitioner could not engage a competent lawyer and also the rules are to stiffing.”
Sir Gibbs said the question that came to his mind when he got appointed was how the judiciary was measured in the eyes of ordinary Papua New Guineans.
“According to the Constitution (Section 158, subsection 1) the judicial authority of the people is vested under the national judicial system,” he said.
“This reminds us that all powers by any servant of the public, including the prime minister, state ministers, constitutional officers, civil servants or a judge, are derived from that constitution and its purpose is to serve the people.
“It is the people, who have vested the administration of justice in the national judiciary system.
“The judiciary has no authority over the people who gave it its powers. It should not deny justice to the people because it is nothing without the people, it should serve their interest.”
By HEZRON KISING