Court rejects Opposition application to join hearing

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THE Supreme Court has dismissed an application by Opposition leader Patrick Pruaitch and Shadow Justice Minister Kerenga Kua to become parties to a court reference relating to the vote-of-no-confidence.
The reference was filed last year by former Justice Minister and Attorney-General Davis Steven seeking the court’s clarification on constitutional issues regarding the vote- of-no-confidence.
A three-man bench consisting of Justice Derek Hartshorn, Justice Collin Makail and Justice Oagile Bethuel Dingake based their ruling on:

  • That the interests of Pruaitch and Kua as the Opposition Leader and Shadow Attorney-General did not qualify as “real or sufficient” in the reference; and, to
  • That they failed appeal the dismissal of Pruaitch’s earlier application on the matter within 21 days after it was dismissed (on March 17).

Lawyer Loani Henao represented Pruaitch and Kua argued that the two had real interest in the matter – Pruaitch as the mover of the motion of no-confidence and Kua as the Shadow Attorney-General, both of whom were members of Parliament.
Justice Dingake said the Opposition motion had just been withdrawn on Monday so Pruaitch was “exactly in the same position as he was before”.
Lawyer Tiffany Twivey representing Justice Minister and Attorney-General Alfred Manase objected to the application saying the court had previously dismissed an earlier application by Pruiatch. She said the circumstances had not changed because the motion had been withdrawn.
“There was a change in circumstance when the motion was filed but since that it was withdrawn, there’s no change in circumstance,” said Twivey.
“This application is an abuse of process and an appeal through the back door.”
Lawyer Ron Webb representing Speaker Job Pomat also objected to the application with the Parliament Clerk’s lawyer Rudolph Lains.
The application to stay the vote of no-confidence which was filed by Manase will be heard today.

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