Court grants leave for Amaiu’s petition

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The Supreme Court in Waigani has granted leave for an election petition filed by candidate Labi Amaiu, challenging the win of Moresby North East MP John Kaupa, to go before a full bench hearing.
Judge Ellenas Batari, sitting as a single Supreme Court judge yesterday, gave the order for the case to go before a three-man bench after he was satisfied the petition relied on statement of facts that demonstrated it had serious issues that were likely to survive.
The issue before the court was whether only one ground used by a trial judge in the National Court to dismiss the entire petition was reasonable, despite five other grounds that survived had not been dealt with. The trial judge had used ground four, the objections, which stated the petition was not dated, to dismiss the entire petition that contradicted s.208 (c) of the organic law.
The court however upheld that s.208 (c) did not contain any specifications that an undated petition could be entirely dismissed, although Kaupa and the PNG Electoral Commission submitted that the trial judge was not obliged to go further because the petition was not dated, and that it failed to plead statutory provisions of the law.
Justice Batari said grounds that also survived the objection to competency on Nov 16, 2017, were that Amaiu’s scrutinisers were denied scrutinising rights by Kaupa’s supporters, that there was illegal removal of the petitioner’s votes, threats to the petitioner’s scrutinisers and that the defendants failed to plead the winning margin.
The court upheld submissions by Amaiu’s lawyer Stanley Liria, which stated “the trial judge had failed to analyse and clarify why only one ground could be used to dismiss all others.
“It breaches the applicant’s rights under s.37 to understand why his petition was dismissed.
“Failure to clarify is an error that raises the issue.”
The case will return after 14 days for a directions hearing.