JACOB POK PASO
THE PNG Electoral Commission was granted leave on Tuesday by the Supreme Court to seek judicial review on the 75% of cost imposed on it following the election petition decision on the Kandep Open seat last July.
The decision of cost followed with the decision that nullified Don Polye as Kandep MP.
The commission felt that the cost imposed by the trial judge was too much and decided to seek leave of the Supreme Court to review the decision on the cost imposed.
In earlier proceedings, Ray Williams, who acted for the commission, argued that Justice Greg Lay erred when ordering the commission to pay three-quarters of the cost to the successful petitioner, Luke
He said this was an injustice, because a few days later, he retired from the bench and consequently left them confused as to how they would pursue the matter of cost.
Mr Williams said during the proceeding, insufficient time was given for the parties to address the issue of cost as they needed more time to study the 185 pages of the written judgment and understand it well before making appropriate submissions on cost.
However, Mr Manase’s counsel Paul Mawa argued that sufficient time was given during the time of the decision and all parties did make their submissions on cost before the final decision was handed out.
He also argued that awarding of costs was generally an exercise of discretion which a judge was allowed to perform under section 220 of the Organic Law.
Mr Mawa said this section stated categorically that the decision of the National Court was conclusive and final and should not be questioned in any way.
While going through the submissions, Justice Nicholas Kirriwom found that the trial judge did not give the applicant and its lawyers ample time to study and absorb the 185-page judgment before hearing the submissions on the question of cost but went ahead and awarded it.
Justice Kirriwom also found that injustice subsequently followed when the trial judge reached the compulsory retirement age and retired few days later.
For these reasons, Justice Kirriwom granted leave to the Electoral Commission to further seek judicial review on the decision on the cost.