By JULIA DAIA BORE
CHIEF Justice Sir Salamo Injia has been asked to disqualify himself from hearing the East Sepik provincial executive council's special reference case because of an "apprehension of bias", The National reports.
Lawyer Manuel Varitimos, of Young and Williams, representing Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, made the submission to the Supreme Court presided by Sir Salamo yesterday. But no detail of the "apprehension of bias" was presented to the court.
The East Sepik council is questioning the legality of the process used by the national parliament on Aug 2 to vote into office the Peter O'Neill-Belden Namah government.
Varitimos' application was submitted to the court during the second directional hearing to confirm the interveners in the proceedings who were named in this order from first to seventh: Attorney-General Dr Allan Marat, Jeffery Nape as speaker of parliament, the Ombudsman Commission, Sam Abal, Peter O'Neill, Belden Namah and National Alliance Party.
The counsel will argue Varitimos' application today.
Sir Salamo said "time was of essence" and ordered that the parties be served the necessary documents by 6pm last night and their response should be filed with the court registry by 9am today.
Sir Salamo will decide after hearing the submissions from both sides whether he should disqualify himself from the case.
It is understood that O'Neill is taking the issue with the fact that lawyer Terry Injia, the son of Sir Salamo, is employed by Steel Lawyers, the law firm of Rimbink Pato who is assisting lawyer Ian Molloy, representing the East Sepik council.
O'Neill's lawyers are expected to raise the issue of "apprehension of bias" on this basis.
They are raising issues because Injia had stated in an affidavit submitted to the court that he would be assisting Pato.