By KARO JESSE
KEROWAGI open MP in Chimbu Bari Palma has filed an urgent application in the National Court seeking to restrain the Speaker and the clerk of Parliament from preventing him from continuing as an MP pending the outcome of another case he had filed against the speaker.
Palma, who was declared insolvent on June 1, 2017, was cleared of the adjudication of insolvency by the National Court last Friday.
However, he was not recognised as an MP by the Speaker when Parliament sat on Monday.
Deputy Chief Justice Ambeng Kandakasi after hearing submissions from Palma’s lawyer Desmond Kipa and lawyer Loani Henao, representing Speaker Job Pomat and Clerk of Parliament Kala Aufa, made an order for parties to make further submissions before he can make a ruling.
Justice Kandakasi informed the parties that he needed more information as to the position of law and practices of Commonwealth countries on how they dealt with matters of persons (MPs) declared insolvent.
Since Palma was not recognised by the Speaker as an MP when Parliament sat on Monday, Justice Kandakasi was cautious of the demarcation of powers between parliament and judiciary.
He asked parties to further find out and inform the court on:
- What Parliament does if an MP is declared insolvent and disqualified;
- What’s the purpose of Constitutional requirement when you are declared insolvent; and,
- How does one becomes disqualified by constitutional law subsequently becomes qualified.
Kipa submitted that there’s no insolvency against Palma since he had been cleared from his debt.
Kipa argued that the Speaker did not have the authority to interpret and apply the Constitution, his role was to give effect to the National Court order.
Henao, in an oral submission, argued that the application was incompetent because the only way which Palma could annul the adjudication of his insolvency was to go back and appeal the decision of his insolvency declared on June 1, 2017.
Henao claimed that when an MP was declared insolvent, sections 103 and 104 of the Constitution, automatically came to play.
Henao was relying on the fact the Palma’s appeal against his adjudication of insolvency was dismissed by the Supreme Court and that he remained insolvent.
Palma was declared insolvent by the Waigani National Court on June 1, 2017 for failing to settle a debtors’ summons by the petitioner valued at K275,119.06.
On Oct 26, 2017 he successfully reviewed that decision and was ordered to pay only K171,969. 06.
Between Oct 11, 2017 and May 28, 2019, Palma paid a sum of K50,000 and K121,969.60 respectively in the National Court trust account.