Supreme Court causing confusion, says minister
FINANCE and Treasury Minister Patrick Pruaitch yesterday accused the Supreme Court of abusing its judicial powers and creating confusion and uncertainty in PNG laws, The National reports.
Pruaitch made his accusation in regards to last Friday’s Supreme Court decision which had been portrayed in the media as an automatic suspension for him from office.
In a three-page letter yesterday to Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal, Pruaitch said legal opinions he had sought advice that he was still minister and that Friday’s decision was a separate matter between Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and the Ombudsman Commission.
“The Supreme Court was not asked to deal with the issue of suspension from office.
“The fact that it proceeded to consider the issue of suspension at its own choosing is a matter of grave concern bordering on abuse of judicial powers and in contravention of the courts’ rules and principles of precedents and finality in decision-making,” he said in his letter.
Abal affirmed Pruaitch as his minister last night.
Abal said: “He is still a minister in cabinet.
“He remains a minister until officers of the court have served legally binding decisions of the court on him.
“We will respect court decisions but he is a leader and must be respected too.”
Pruaitch told Abal that the parties before the Supreme Court case were Sir Michael and the Ombudsman Commission, thus, any decision arising out of that case “can only bind those parties and not me”.
“The implications of the Supreme Court opinion on the issue of suspension is to add further confusion and uncertainty in our laws.
“The Supreme Court presided by a panel headed by Justice Kirriwom suspended me on the interpretation that a leader is automatically suspended when the public prosecutor refers the leader to the chief justice.
“The second Supreme Court headed by Justice Sakora reversed and discharge that decision and made orders reinstating me as leader and minister.”
“The Supreme Court panel headed by Justice Sakora specifically made orders reinstating me as leader and minister.
“This court order is binding for all intents and purposes. Since the Supreme Court order of March 31, no other Supreme Court order has been expressly made setting aside the March 31 Supreme Court order.
“Any action in contravention of the attached Supreme Court order would amount to contempt of the Supreme Court order.”
Last Friday’s Supreme Court decision did make direct references to the Pruaitch case (No.2) claiming it “does not correctly represent the law” and that it “runs against the spirit and intent of section 271 (6) of the Constitution and the whole scheme of making leaders accountable for the sake of good leadership, good administration and good governance”.
Elsewhere, the decision stated: “For avoidance of doubt, we reiterate that suspension is triggered or takes effect from the moment a decision is made to refer a leader to a leadership tribunal by the public prosecutor.”