O’Neill’s House session case adjourned to Thursday
By CHARLES MOI
THE Supreme Court has stayed Parliament sessions scheduled for both today and April 20 next year, pending its determination of constitutional issues raised in the case filed by Ialibu-Pangia MP Peter O’Neill.
O’Neill, represented by lawyer Greg Sheppard, had asked the court to determine whether Speaker Job Pomat was right in recalling Parliament on Nov 17 after MPs had passed a motion on Nov 13 that it be adjourned to Dec 1.
The Nov 17 sitting, which Opposition MPs did not attend as they were out of town, also saw the passing of the 2021 National Budget and the adjournment to April next year.
The Supreme Court panel comprising Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika, Justice David Cannings, Justice Derek Hartshorn, Justice George Manuhu and Justice Ere Kariko ordered that both adjournment dates be stayed.
Justice Cannings informed the parties to return on Thursday, Dec 3, to give submissions on the substantive matter filed by O’Neill.
Sir Gibbs said: “Before us is an application that concerns two purported adjournments of parliament. The first of those purported adjournments is to adjourn parliament to tomorrow (today).
“That decision was made on the 13 November 2020. The substantive proceedings are yet to be argued.
“The question of whether an interim order is appropriate has been raised with the parties and the parties have consented to this court making such an order pursuant to its inherent jurisdiction.”
Sir Gibbs said taking into account all the relevant considerations – the balance of convenience and the interest of justice – the judges ordered that Parliament’s decision on Nov 13 to adjourn to Dec 1 be stayed pending the hearing and determination of the substantive matter.
The panel ordered that the purported decision of Parliament on Nov 17 to adjourn parliament to April 20, 2021, be stayed pending hearing and determination of the substantive application.
O’Neill has been given until noon today to file and serve any further affidavits.
The interveners are to file and serve any further affidavits by 11am on Dec 2.
Written extracts of submissions are to be filed and served by 5pm on Dec 2.
The hearing of the substantive application is set for Dec 3.
The other parties in the case are Speaker Job Pomat represented by lawyer Charles Mende and Minister for Justice and Attorney-General Pila Niningi represented by lawyer Nemo Yalo.
O’Neill is asking the court to declare that:
- THE Speaker’s decision to recall Parliament on Nov 17 was unconstitutional, invalid and ineffective;
- THE meeting of Parliament on Nov 17 was unconstitutional, invalid and ineffective;
- THE 2021 national budget purportedly passed on Nov 17 was unconstitutional, invalid and ineffective; and,
- THE decision to adjourn parliament to April 20, 2021 was unconstitutional, invalid and ineffective.