Sir Gibbs queries delays in court references

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By TREVOR WAHUNE
CHIEF JUSTICE Sir Gibbs Salika has questioned the delays in Supreme Court references and leadership tribunal proceedings by the ombudsman commission and their intervening parties.
He said they were taking too long to return to court.
One example he referred to yesterday was a Supreme Court reference challenging the constitutionality of the Sim Card Registration Regularisation 2016.
In December 2016, the governor-general had enacted the legislation on the advice of the National Executive Council under Section 216 of the National Information and Telecommunication Technology Act 2009.
He found out that the delay was caused by the National Information Communication and Technology Authority (Nicta), which was supposed to make an application to intervene in the matter.
Its lawyer told the court that it was still waiting for a letter of approval from the Attorney-General’s office to represent it in the case.
“Five minutes is all you need to draft that letter,” Sir Gibbs said.
“This application is premature.”
He explained that Nicta’s application was premature because it did not get the instruction to file its notice of appearance.
The matter had been adjourned from May 8.
Nicta’s lawyer told the court that he and the ombudsman commission’s lawyer had agreed to have the matter adjourned to await the letter of approval from the justice minister that was still being prepared.
Sir Gibbs cut him off and told him: “I am only interested in the other letter.
“That is a reply to that letter.
“Where is it?
“That is not new.
“Advising the attorney-general about the letter is not the same as that letter.”
He told the lawyer to “go get a copy of that letter and bring it before this court”.
“Otherwise, you have no right to be standing here,” Sir Gibbs said.
“Consider yourself not even there at the bar table. Come back at another time.”
The matter was adjourned to June 3.
When the ombudsman commission lawyer told the court that she had no further matters, Sir Gibbs questioned where all the Supreme Court references and leadership tribunals were.
“You say you have no further matters.
“What about the Supreme Court reference on the vote of no confidence?
“What about the leadership tribunals of Belden Namah and Patrick Pruaitch that were stayed for judicial reviews?
“We are now going into the sitting of the vote of no confidence.
“What happened to those references?”
Sir Gibbs ordered the Ombudsman commission’s lawyer to find out why all those cases were pending.

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