Court: Kamma is S. Bougainville MP

National, Normal

The National – Tuesday, July 5, 2011

THE Supreme Court last Friday unanimously dismissed two applications to review the decisions of the national court on the election of Steven Pirika Kamma for South Bougainville.
After a hard-fought battle starting straight after elections in November 2007, with Kamma in the runner-up position contesting the election of Michael Laimo, the former has come a full circle and comprehensively seized the job as MP, just 13 months shy of the next general elections.
Following the elections, Kamma, who was runner-up by 17 votes filed an election petition challenging Laimo’s win.
The National Court in February 2008 declared the election of Laimo null and void and ordered a recount of all ballot papers but excluding one contentious box.
In October 2008, Kamma was declared as duly elected following a recount of votes.
Both the electoral commission and Laimo filed for reviews of the National Court decisions arriving at the overturning of Laimo’s win, all of which were rejected at every turn by the court.
When the last of these applications for leave were dismissed by Chief Justice Salamo Injia in June 2009, the applicants sought one final recourse which was to apply to the Supreme Court for a review of the judgment based on the slip rule raising nine points.
Slip rule applications are a legal avenue available to aggrieved parties to apply to the Supreme Court to correct mistakes or slips in a judgement that are not attributable to the conduct of a party or its lawyer. It is a slip by the judge.
The three-man bench of Justices Salatiel Lenalia, David Cannings and  John Kawi ruled last Friday that none of the nine alleged mistakes or slips brought before the court for adjudication “amount to errors of law, let alone glaring mistakes or errors” and struck out all nine.
The court further ruled that some of the alleged mistakes were a rehash of arguments already made before the judge who dismissed the leave applications and so the applications before it were likewise dismissed.
“None of the arguments about alleged errors or slips or mistakes on the part of the chief justice as a single judge of the Supreme Court in his decision of June 5, 2009 have merit. The slip rule applications must fail.”
Costs were awarded against the parties who made or supported the applications. 
The judges were of the opinion that if any slip rule application has been “defeated as comprehensively as the two before us, it may be difficult to avoid the conclusion that the application has been an abuse of process.
“In our view, too many unmeritorious slip rule applications are being made.
“The fairest way of reducing the amount of court time wasted may be to award costs…”