By JULIA DAIA BORE
TOM Olga is the duly elected Member of Parliament for Western Highlands, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday.
However, Mr Olga’s election victory was overshadowed by the three-judge bench compromising justices Bernard Sakora, Nicholas Kirriwom and Panuel Mogish attacking the lower National Court for being “mischievous” and stepping out of line in rehearing the case early this month.
Mr Olga has fought the election petition battle brought against him after the 2007 general election by former Western Highlands governor, Paias Wingti. It included two recounts.
Justice Sakora read the court’s unanimous decision, which meant Mr Olga was the governor.
In criticising the lower court, Justice Sakora said that the discussions and conclusions of the National Court, which had “resurrected” the Olga-Wingti case in Kimbe on April 9, was done with “mischief”, and was “functus officio”.
He said after the first recount, the National Court no longer had the authority or jurisdiction to deal with it.
The matter was within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court’s three judges whose 10 orders, handed down on Nov 27 last year, were to be effected by the National Court and the parties concerned.
“It was in our opinion that the National Court, engaging in regurgitating the election petition in Kimbe on April 9, was mischievous because nowhere in our decision did we order the National Court to rehear the petition.”
He said that the Supreme Court did not “invite” and give the National Court the “discretion” to rehear the matter.
Justice Sakora described the National Court as having “no discretion” while its action in Kimbe was “misconceived, extraordinary, irregular, unprecedented, unheard of, incomprehensive, misguided, misconceived and ultra vires”. “It was unlawful,” Justice Sakora added.
He said the reconvening of the Supreme Court bench was to give effect to the decision and orders they issued on Nov 27 last year.
Supporters of Mr Olga packed the Waigani courtroom to capacity and waited patiently for almost two-and-half hours yesterday afternoon, from 3.30pm to about 5pm.
After the decision, Mr Olga was lifted and carried out of the Waigani court premises by supporters.
Outside the courtroom, Mr Olga thanked God and his lawyers, Harvey Nii and Kelly Naru, and the Electoral Commission.
He also thanked the people of Western Highlands for waiting patiently for three years for the matter to be sorted out in court.
He praised and thanked the PNG justice system, saying true justice had prevailed in the end.
The high court will sit again next Friday when counsel for the parties will make submissions on costs for the recent two sittings of the three-bench of the Supreme Court on the matter.