Court to proceed with hearing submissions

No agreement was reached in court on a set date to either stay or adjourn the December 1st Parliament sitting agreed upon by Parliament on the 13th of November.

Ialibu Pangia MP and former Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is seeking the court's clarification, after Speaker of Parliament deemed the adjournment of Parliament to the 1st of December, illegal.

Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika yesterday asked both parties to assist the courts in solving this urgent constitutional matter by consulting their clients and negotiate with each other on an agreed date for Parliament to resume.

The case filed by O’Neill seeking court’s interpretation on the legality surrounding the November 17th Parliament sitting and subsequent passing of the 2021 National Budget by minority of members of Parliament, went before the Supreme Court this morning after it was adjourned from yesterday.

Lawyer representing O’Neill, Greg Sheppard ,told the court that he had proposed with the interveners for Parliament to sit on Tuesday, December 1st.

This was the date adjourned by majority of MPs who crossed the floor of Parliament and are in the Vanimo camp. 

However, the court heard that parties on the other hand, disagreed with Sheppard’s proposal.

Outside the court house, Nema Yalo who is representing the Attorney General, says the validity of the decision of Parliament to adjourn to 1st of December and the second decision to adjourn to 20th April 2021  are substantive issues and that the court will only determine a decision on the next Parliament sitting after hearing arguments from both parties.

“We cannot determine the substantive issue without arguing because there is the issue of whether or not the decision of the 13th of November by the Parliament to adjourn to the 1st of December is constitutionally valid and it is  clearly a motion that was moved by a member of Parliament who is clearly not a Minister, according to the Organic Law on the calling of the meeting Parliament. It is a Minister who moves that motion. If Parties are to agree, we are already determining the issue that we are supposed to argue the validity of it, so we could not agree,” Yalo said.

Meantime, the court has granted leave to the Speaker and Attorney General as the first and second interveners in the case.

Sir Gibbs instructed the Finance Minister and leader of Government business, Clerk of Parliament, the Treasurer, through their lawyers to file their applications before Friday.

This also includes Paul Paraka, who is a party in the proceedings as a concerned citizen.

The matter returns to Monday 30th of November for the court to hear the applications.

Jemimah Sukbat