The National, Thursday 15th December 2011
PAPUA New Guinea is in a state of turmoil following the confusing sequence of events on Monday.
It is not my intention to dissect the Supreme Court’s decision.
I respect the judiciary and I would like to think I still do after Monday’s events.
However, I am at total loss as to the separation of powers of the three arms of government – the executive, the judiciary and the legislator.
Reading the Supreme Court’s ruling, I am firmly of the opinion that the judiciary might have overstepped its fiduciary and core responsibilities and interfered with the functions of the legislator.
Wasn’t it on the floor of parliament that a vote was taken to declare a vacancy in the post of the prime minister due primarily to the unexplained and prolonged absence of Sir Michael Somare?
Was it not also on the floor of parliament that Sir Michael was decommissioned?
From my simple understanding of the court reference before it, the Supreme Court was to deliberate over the constitutionality of two very fundamental but crucial issues:
1. Parliament declaring a vacancy in the post of the prime minister in parliament; and
2. The move to oust Sir Michael from parliament.
My understanding of the Supreme Court’s fiduciary role is to interpret the law in direct reference to the court challenge before it and then make informed decisions followed with recommendations to parliament which then must act accordingly as all decisions made culminating this court challenge was on the floor of parliament. Period
However, in this instance, I am of the opinion that the Supreme Court not only made the decision but also took it upon itself to order parliament to reinstate the ousted prime minister and declare no vacancy in the post of the prime minister.
In other words, the Supreme Court had inadvertently decided to be the juror and the executioner for and on behalf of parliament, thereby “judiciously” overstepping its prescribed jurisdiction.
This is a serious breach of the constitutional roles of the Supreme Court, which is the third arm of government, and is quite discerning to say the least.
For the record, I must also state here that the decision was not unanimous but 3-2.
The judiciary must now explain to PNG why it has overstepped its boundaries in assuming the role of parliament as well.
Dr Kristoffa Robert Ninkama