By JULIA DAIA BORE
THE challenge on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPPAC) will be heard next year after a new judge is appointed to the Supreme Court panel of five.
A hearing of the Special Reference filed by Western province Governor Dr Bob Danaya was adjourned yesterday to next February after it was learnt that a judge on the bench had reached retirement age.
The retirement age for judges is 55.
Having reached that age, Justice Les Gavera-Nanu cannot be part of the panel that hears this important constitutional challenge. Questions of competency of the whole proceedings would be raised.
There are moves to extend the retirement age to 77, but it is unclear whether this requires
the approval of Parliament first ahead of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC) making a determination.
Whether Justice Gavera-Nanu can still hear cases is still under review before the JLSC for possible extension of his services, lawyers dealing in the matter explained to journalists covering the proceedings yesterday.
The lawyers involved in the matter were called into the judges chambers where the situation was explained to them.
The JLSC wanted to extend the judge’s term in office, but the age requirement is posing a problem.
The five judges on the bench are the Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia, Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs
Salika, senior judges Bernard Sakora, Nicholas Kirriwom and Justice Gavera-Nanu.
Yesterday’s aborted hearing was the continuation of the second part of the submissions by Alois Jerewai, the lawyer for Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and OLIPPAC Commission, to be followed by lawyers for the State and the National Parliament who are defending the OLIPPAC.