Ruling favours Polye

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The National, Thursday July 7th, 2016

THE Supreme Court has found that Opposition Leader Don Polye has standing in his case seeking an order to recall Parliament before July 27 to debate a motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
This ruling means that the court will hear parties’ submissions on the substantive matter which is for Parliament to be recalled before July 27.
Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia, Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika and Justice Colin Makail, in a unanimous decision yesterday, were of the view that Polye had standing because he was an MP and leader of the Opposition.
The judges said a ruling by the national court in an election petition which set aside Polye’s declaration as the Kandep MP had been stayed by a single Supreme Court judge.
They said this meant that Polye was currently an MP.
Polye’s lawyer Cook Marshall QC argued that his client had standing in the matter.
Marshall explained that Polye remained MP until the determination of an appeal against a decision by the national court in an election petition.
He argued that Polye would still have standing even as a private citizen.
Lawyer John Griffin QC disagreed with Marshall’s submission on the basis that Polye did not have standing.
Griffin said a recent national court decision in an election petition filed by losing candidate Alfred Manase had set aside Polye’s declaration as an MP.
He said the court should wait for the determination of Polye’s appeal in the election petition.
Griffin is representing Parliament Speaker Theo Zurenouc, Deputy Speaker Aide Ganasi, acting clerk Kala Aufa and Attorney-General Ano Pala.
After considering submissions from the parties, the court ruled in favour of Marshall and stated that Polye had standing.
Sir Salamo said Polye had filed the case in his capacity as an MP and the Opposition leader.
He said there was a clear case precedence for an application brought under Section 18 (1) of the Constitution by a person who was an MP and Opposition leader.
Sir Gibbs, in support of Sir Salamo, said Polye’s current status as an MP and Opposition leader was sufficient under Section 18(1) of the Constitution.
Makail agreed with his fellow judges.
Polye is asking the court to recall Parliament to debate a motion of no confidence against O’Neill.
He argues that the case would be futile by July 27 because Section 145 of the Constitution would come into effect then.
The Section states in part that “a motion of no-confidence in the prime minister or the ministry moved within 12 months before the fifth anniversary of the date fixed for the return of the writs at the previous general election shall not be allowed if it nominates the next prime minister”.