Court dismisses inflated polls figures, negligence claims against PNGEC

Main Stories, National

The National, Monday 17th June 2013


THE Waigani National Court dismissed a case of negligence against the PNG Electoral Commission (PNGEC) and a candidate Pila Niningi relating to last year’s general elections in the Imbonggu electorate of Southern Highlands.

The matter was brought to court as negligence against the PNGEC for inflating figures for the electorate. 

As a result, the plaintiffs, Minister of Works Francis Awesa and Wale Molisis, stated that co-defendant Niningi had unlawfully benefited from the inflated figures by securing 7,000-plus votes from certain villages. 

In his ruling, Justice Ere Kariko said the claim against Niningi of unlawfully benefiting had no clear legal basis and should be dismissed because what was pleaded did not disclose a reasonable cause of action.  

“I am also of the view that the claim against the Electoral Commission for negligence must also be dismissed,” he said.

Kariko said it was trite law  in a claim for negligence, the applicant must establish that the defendant owed him a duty of care, that the defendant breached that duty and as a result of that breach he had suffered loss. 

He also stated that the amended statement of claim did not set out the necessary elements and in his opinion a cause of action based on negligence had not been properly and sufficiently pleaded. 

Kariko said all that was claimed was that the PNGEC was negligent because it had failed to ensure the common rolls were not inflated, failed to ensure no illegal practices or errors were committed by polling officials, failed to ensure Niningi did not benefit from the inflated figure and failed to do a proper head count of the Piambil village. 

The judge ordered that the proceeding be dismissed for failing to disclose a reasonable cause of action. 

He ruled that being an abuse of process, the plaintiffs should pay the second defendant’s costs of and incidentals to the proceeding on a solicitor/client basis and it be taxed if not agreed upon.