By JACOB POK
THE special Supreme Court reference on the matter of the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates ended yesterday after all parties made their final submissions before a five-judge bench at the Waigani Supreme Court.
The bench was headed by Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia, Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika, Justice Bernard Sakora, Justice Nicholas Kirriwom and Justice Les Gavara-Nanu who reserved the decision to a later date.
The reference, among others, raised pertinent questions about the rights of an MP-elect to decide to vote on issues or a leader, whether he could resign from a political party which had endorsed his nomination and related issues. It questioned the validity of the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates.
The matter was referred by the provincial executive council of the Fly River provincial government, headed by Governor Dr Bob Danaya.
It looked at constitutional law provisions that include section 115: parliamentary privileges; section 111: right to introduce Bills; section 27: responsibilities of office; section 45: freedom of conscience, thought and religion; section 47: freedom of assembly and association; section 127: purposes of subdivision H; section 128: registered political parties; section 129: integrity of political parties; section 130: integrity of candidates; and section 130A: provisions relating to political parties.
Yesterday, oral submissions were made by counsel Alois Jerewai on behalf of the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, followed by Deputy Solicitor General Laias Paul Kandi on behalf of the state and the office of the Attorney-General.
They argued that the court should decline to provide its opinion, interpretation and application on the reference as those were not of immediate relevance to the circumstances of Papua New Guinea.
However, the referrers, represented by Loani Henao of Henao Lawyers argued that the court has the power and jurisdiction to look at the amendments that were made to the Constitution.
Mr Loani said several amendments made to the Organic Laws a few years ago were unconstitutional and should be disregarded.
Additional submissions where made by deputy Opposition leader Bart Philemon’s lawyer Peter Donigi and Imbonggu MP Francis Awesa’s lawyer David Lora, in support of the referrers.