Court erred in Kombuk stay order case, judge says


A JUDGE has ruled that the National Court erred when it stayed the suspension of Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) secretary Daniel Kombuk, thus allowing him to judicially challenge his suspension.
Supreme Court judge Justice Derek Hartshorn on Friday, made the determination in an urgent application filed by the by the State to challenge the National Court decision.
He stayed the National Court stay order and the judicial review case filed by Kombuk, pending appeal.
State lawyer Kevin Kipongi submitted that the National Court had erred in staying Kombuk’s suspension when he was suspended on full pay.
Kipongi said the National Executive Council had suspended Kombuk on July 22, and appointed Stephen Mombi as acting secretary.
“Mombi was appointed while Kombuk is on suspension” he said.
“Kombuk is subject to further investigation. But the stay has prematurely halted the investigation. And it is unjust for Kombuk to resume office pending investigation.”
Kipongi said when acting judge Justice Gethrude Tamade stayed Kombuk’s suspension on Sept 3, there were no specific order on whether Kombuk should resume office, nor an order clarifying who would occupy the office given that Mombi had already been appointed by the NEC.
The court was informed that Kombuk assumed office after the National Court stayed his suspension and issued circular notices to other government departments which caused confusion and uncertainty.
Justice Hartshorn ruled that the State had an arguable case.