Court bars inquiry report

National, Normal

THE Government has been barred from implementing the recommendations of the final report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Finance Department.
The National Court issued this order on Saturday, a day after Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare tabled the 800-page report in Parliament.
The interim injunction issued by Justice Bernard Sakora prevents the Chief Secretary and his task force team from implementing the recommendations of the report.
The order prevents the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, Chief Secretary Manasupe Zurenuoc, their agents, servants or instruments of the State from implementing, discussing, debating, or giving effect to the report compiled by retired judge Maurice Sheehan and his commissioners.
The order also bans the media from reporting the recommendations of the report.
The orders were issued under section 155(3)(a) of the Constitution.
The orders remain in force pending the hearing of the judicial review challenge on the entire report itself.
The orders were obtained by former solicitor-general Zachery Gelu and Paul Paraka, principal of Paul Paraka Lawyers, the biggest law firm in the country.
Paul Paraka Lawyers, through its Alotau branch, approached Justice Sakora to hear this application.
Because of its urgent nature, the judge agreed to hear it on Saturday.
The plaintiffs alleged that the final report of the inquiry contained certain adverse findings and recommendations against a number of organisations and individuals without any foundation.
They contended that the report is flawed in many respects, and breaches certain legalizations and the Constitution.
They contended that the final report is not only unprofessionally done, but also done illegally outside the terms of reference of the inquiry.
“Such illegal report cannot be allowed to be debated, discussed, or acted upon.
“Adverse findings and recommendations made in a flawed report cannot be allowed to find its way into the public domain,” Mr Gelu contended.
Mr Gelu and Mr Paraka contend that of the 43 specific cases reported in the final report, only 18 were within the terms of reference and had been properly inquired into.
They said 25 were illegally inquired into as they were outside the terms of reference, and in most of these cases, no payments were made by the Finance Department.
After a four-hour hearing, Justice Sakora issued the orders. The judge also ordered that the matter be listed for a judicial review hearing in Waigani.