THE National Court in Waigani yesterday acquitted Education secretary Dr Joseph Pagelio and two senior officers of the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) of contempt charges.
The matter first went before the court last year when seven teachers sued the three officers for demoting them from their duties.
The teachers were demoted for their alleged involvement in a nationwide strike in 2006.
Aggrieved by that, the teachers initiated legal proceedings against the three officers.
The court ruled in favour of the plaintiffs in the first proceedings and ordered the defendants to reinstate the teachers to their substantive positions and their entitlements be backdated and paid in full.
But the court also ordered the plaintiffs to remain under suspension until proper investigations were carried out on the allegations by a duly constituted TSC committee pursuant to section 95(2) and section 11 of the Teaching Service Act.
However, the plaintiffs returned to court again early this year and sued the three officers for not complying with the court’s orders.
Presiding judge Justice David Cannings found that the defendants did comply with the court orders by reinstating the plaintiffs and paid their outstanding entitlements.
Justice Cannings clarified to the plaintiffs that the orders issued by the trial judge were not clear and unambiguous when he ordered that the plaintiffs be reinstated with pay.
He said although the previous judge granted the entitlements and reinstatement, he also ordered that the allegations against the plaintiffs on the issue of strike be investigated properly and that the plaintiffs would remain on suspension.
The judge therefore ruled in favour of the defendants and acquitted all three of the contempt charges.