Judge disqualifies himself sitting in Paraka case

Justice Ere Kariko has disqualified himself from further presiding on a case in the Waigani National Court involving Paul Paraka, Finance Minister James Marape, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and the State.

This proceeding relates to the alleged fraudulent payments in the years 2012 and 2013 of over K71million by the State through the Department of Finance for legal bills of Paul Paraka trading as Paul Paraka Lawyers.

Justice Kariko disqualified himself early this week after an application (filed Oct 28,2016) which he was asked to look into, relied on an earlier interlocutory decision he made.

The earlier decision referred to emanates from an application for interim injunction by Marape and O’Neill where Justice Kariko determined that neither Marape nor the Prime Minister had standing in the substantive proceedings.

Paraka asked Justice Kariko to disqualify himself from further sitting on the case due to his earlier decision.

Marape’s lawyer, Robert Leo in October  submitted in court that Justice Kariko’s earlier decision was of the view that he had conclusive opinion on the issue before the court which was yet to be determined in the substantive hearing.

Leo told the court then that this was because of Justice Kariko’s interpretation of relevant provisions of the Lawyers Act 1986 and his views on whether the requirements under the National Court Rule for an application for taxation costs has been complied with.

Justice Kariko in his ruling on Monday said while he recognized that judges should not readily disqualify themselves form hearing cases, it was also important that the public should have confidence in the integrity of judges.

“It is in my opinion that because I made conclusive findings, on several pertinent issues for trial,” said Kariko.

He went on to say that those findings are such that a fair-minded lay observer with knowledge that he has made those findings, might have a reasonable apprehension that he may not bring an impartial and unprejudiced mind to determine not only pending notice of motions but the substantive proceeding also.

“I therefore disqualify myself from further hearing this case, which is now adjourned to the registry to be referred to the Civil Track Judge Administrator for re-allocation to another judge and for parties to be then advised accordingly,” Justice Kariko said.


Sally Pokiton