THE Supreme Court has ordered the suspension of Finance and Treasury Minister Patrick Pruaitch from office, The National reports.
The high court made the decision yesterday, saying Pruaitch is suspended on full pay pending his substantive appeal against his referral by the Ombudsman Commission to the leadership tribunal.
The three-judge bench of the Supreme Court consisted of justices Nicholas Kirriwom, Les Gavera-Nanu and Catherine Davani.
They ruled that with Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia’s convening of the tribunal on Feb 3, this had immediately effected section 28 of the Organic Law on the duties and responsibilities of leadership (OLDLR).
Section 28 gives effect to the suspension of a leader who has been referred for prosecution before a leadership tribunal over allegations of misconduct in office.
The tribunal sat in February but did not commence hearing because of the restraining order obtained by Pruaitch. The tribunal comprises Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika, principal magistrate Peter Toliken and senior magistrate Nerrie Eliakim.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that as soon as the tribunal was convened, the suspension of the leader immediately came into effect. And, for the leader to go to the courts, to turn his situation around was “an abuse of process”.
“The office belongs to the people of
“Once the allegations were made against a leader, that leader’s integrity is called into question,” Kirriwom, who read out the decision, said.
“The suspension of the leader is automatic and he must vacate office immediately to preserve his good name,” he added.
The court’s decision was made following submissions on grounds of law from both parties between March and April.
The court also overruled an appeal against a decision by
In a directional hearing yesterday afternoon, the chief justice ruled that the substantive appeal be heard on June 30. He also directed parties to file their written submissions at least five days before the hearing date.
Pruiatch was referred to the tribunal over allegations of misconduct in office following investigations by the Ombudsman Commission.
The allegations included double-dipping into support vehicle allowances, double-dipping into operational cost allowances for support vehicles, improper receipts of public funds for fuel costs for private vehicles, double-dipping into entertainment allowances and misappropriation of 2003 district support grants.