By SAMUEL RAITANO
THE East Sepik provincial government's Supreme Court special reference challenging the constitutionality of the O'Neill-Namah government entered the legal scene yesterday, putting to test the jurisdictional responsibilities of the chief justice and the attorney-general in assisting the court, The National reports.
The main drama was when points were raised between first intervener Attorney-General Dr Allan Marat's counsel and Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia as to who should order the serving of the amended Supreme Court reference to the parties named.
This was because the attorney-general and the court shared the same discretion to serve the reference documents to the concerned parties, according to a provision of the Supreme Court rule used to pursue the matter.
In the melee, the referrer's lawyer, Ian Molloy, announced that the "amended" special reference was filed and served early yesterday morning in court and to the defendants before the 9.30am hearing.
The Supreme Court reference was filed on Aug 5 and an amended version was filed yesterday.
The court was told that the amended special reference superseded the previous special reference.
Counsel Manuel Varitimos, for the attorney-general, denied receiving any written document on the amendment.
The court battle promised to gain momentum as lawyers Virgil Narokobi and Kelly Naru for the Ombudsman Commission and the clerk of parliament respectively announced their intentions to join the proceeding as intervening parties.
Narokobi said the Ombudsman Commission was ready to join in the matter and would file their application to do so on the court's direction.
He said the reference was to do with the interpretation and application of constitutional laws which his client was interested in.
Naru said he would make two separate applications to intervene.
One was for the clerk of the parliament in person and the other for the national parliament.
The court raised concern as to whether the jurisdiction in representing the parliament in court lay with the clerk or the speaker.
The attorney-general, in his draft orders, had named seven parties as the ones interested in the matter and who should be personally served with the reference documents.
The parties are Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, former acting prime minister Sam Abal, Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah, Parliament Speaker Jeffery Nape, the Ombudsman Commission and the national parliament.
Varitimos also sought the court's approval to personally serve Sir Michael the reference information because "there was no evidence whatsoever proving that Sir Michael was not able to receive it in person".
This point was received with murmurs from the court audience, prompting Sir Salamo to highlight that Sir Michael was under health care in Singapore.
The court highlighted that interested parties were not restricted to the seven and directed that any other parties wanting to join in had to make their applications by Thursday.
This was due to the state's argument that it did not want to have any other party filing similar references on the same matter later.
The court directed the attorney-general to serve the sealed documents personally to the parties concerned before next Tuesday for further directions