The National – Wednesday, December 29, 2010
By JULIA DAIA BORE
JUSTICE Mark Sevua’s challenge of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission’s (JLSC) decision of Sept 28 rejecting his reappointment to serve another five years is expected to be heard next Monday at the Waigani National Court.
Sevua’s challenge by way of an originating summons of the JLSC decision chaired by then Justice Minister Ano Pala, was filed to the court registry last Wednesday.
His lawyer, Copland Raurela of Raurela Lawyers, also filed additional documents – his statement in support – of his client’s (Sevua) affidavit of Dec 22.
A returnable hearing date was set then for Jan 3 before a vocation judge, most likely Justice Bernard Sakora.
Sevua, the third longest serving judge on the judicial bench, was refused his application for an extension of his term as judge from 60 years to 65 years of age by the JLSC which comprised Ano Pala as chairman, Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia, Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika and Chief Ombudsman Chronox Manek.
The application was made on July 6, when he was 59, hoping it would be approved and effected on Jan 6 when he turns 60.
In the affidavits filed, Sevua argued that JLSC, as the appointing authority of judges, did not state its reasons for rejection his application, which was a legal requirement.
He said this was a violation or breach of natural justice when no valid reasons were given for the rejection of his application for extension of term of service as a judge.
Sevua said JLSC had set precedence in that five judges had to date been granted such extension, for their service to 65 years of age.
He added that two of them were junior judges who had reached the 60-year age limit but had yet to clock their first 10 years service as judges.
He is expected to vacate his office on Jan 6, when he turns 60, after serving as a National and Supreme Court judge for almost 18 years.
Sevua would have by then have served as PNG’s National and Supreme Court judge for almost 18 years (just over one month shy of 18 years service); having performed the roles of: Judge Administrator – Election petition matters since 2002, Chairman of the Judges’ terms and conditions committee, member of the salaries and remuneration committee, chairman of case management and information technology committee and member of the planning committee. And in recognition of his services to the judiciary was recognised and awarded commander of the British Empire (CBE) on Nov 1, 2006.
Sevua was appointed acting judge on Feb 11, 1993, for six month and then officially took up office in March of that year.
He became a substantive judge of the National and Supreme Court with 10 years extension on Aug 6, 1993; and reappointed for another 10 years term on Aug 28, 2003.
This effectively indicates that Sevua’s 10 year term technically would expire in Aug 2013, but because the legal retirement age of judges is currently 60, and extended to 65 years upon the individual judge’s request, and endorsed officially by the JLSC.