The National, Thursday July 18th, 2013
By ADRIAN MATHIAS
JUSTICE Derek Hartshorn upheld an objection to competency application by Wabag MP Robert Ganim and dismissed Samuel Abal’s petition for incompetence in the Court of Disputed Returns in Port Moresby.
This means Ganim remains MP.
Announcing his decision in a packed courtroom on Tuesday, Hartshorn said the respondents – Maku Kopyala, a returning officer of Wabag open electorate in last year’s general election, Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen, Electoral Commission and Ganim – objected to the competency of the petition on various grounds and submitted that the petition should be dismissed or the offending parts of the petition be struck out.
Abal, a former MP and petitioner, named Ganim as first respondent, Kopyala second, Trawen as third and the commission as the fourth respondent in his petition.
Abal, represented by Greg Manda, alleged there were instances of illegal practices and irregularities committed during polling and the counting of votes and that the first respondent, against the law, did not resign as a senior public servant before contesting the election.
But Hartshorn, while upholding the objection to competency application by Ganim, said from a perusal of the petition, the petitioner had not specifically pleaded that the illegal practice or error or omission was likely to affect or did affect the result of the election.
“It is not shown how this was likely to occur or occurred,” he said.
Ganim, represented by Ian Molloy, submitted on Monday that pleadings on facts in relation to illegal practices comprising bribery and undue influences, irregularities and errors and omissions against him and the three other respondents named in the petition respectively by Abal were too general and insufficient.
“Pleadings in the petition, in many respects, did not satisfy the requirements of the Organic Law and should be struck out,” he said.
Molloy’s arguments were backed by the commission through its lawyer Harold Viyogo who said the petition was clearly incompetent and should be dismissed.
Hartshorn also ordered the petitioner to pay the respondents and the K5,000 security deposit be shared by the respondents.