By PNG Echo.
Did you know that the Court of Law has no jurisdiction to hear an Originating Summons concerning a suspension of a police officer in an administrative matter except as a Judicial Review?
In the case of Damaru’s suspension, and as far as anyone can tell, Greg Egan and other lawyers for Damaru have not filed for a Judicial Review. Indeed they would have had to have sought leave first and that hasn’t come to anyone’s attention.
So, if Egan sought declaratory orders regarding the suspension outside of a judicial review (and it looks as though he did) then the court has no jurisdiction to effect it.
It’s all to do with the separation of powers – it’s fundamental “trite law”, as one commentator put it (a principle (paradigm) of law so notorious and entrenched that it is commonly known and rarely disputed.)
But however fundamental the legal paradigm, it seems to have escaped Justice Allen David when he stayed the suspension imposed administratively By COP Baki of his officer Matthew Damaru.
And that’s not the only legal paradigm that was seriously shifted in this case. Justice David heard the case ‘ex-parte’ …but I’m getting ahead of myself. First things first:
The Judge said that he wanted the parties to come to an agreement on the way forward, but lawyers for the State said that they couldn’t do that as QC for Damaru, Greg Egan, refused to share the court documents with them.
Really, one would think that the wise thing to do under these circumstances would have been for the Judge to have ordered that Egan disclose them so that the parties were both well-informed, enabling them to come to that agreement as to the progression of the case – but did he hell? No he didn’t.
He decided to hear the appeal, ex-parte instead.
This means that Justice David chose to hear the application without any arguments from the defence and without their presence. Why? It was totally one sided.
Now ex parte hearings sometimes become necessary when the opposing parties aren’t available, in order to expedite matters, but the parties for the state and for the police service were all there and the ex-parte route is certainly not one preferred by the courts of justice.
This notwithstanding, the Judge chose to go down (unnecessarily) the least judicially desirable path, thus denying the State and the Police natural justice – the whole thing was one-sided and opposing parties didn’t even know what was being argued.
One of the stronger arguments against (apart from the fact that the courts have no jurisdiction), is that to interfere with the Police Commissioner is contrary to the Supreme Court reference – which recognised the authority of Baki (as Police Commissioner) over his men – but who cares, hey? No one was listening.
It leaves me wondering whether the Judge is aware of the ramifications of his decision? I mean, the right of the Police Commissioner to have full operational command is fundamental to the stability of the police force – but all efforts to bring discipline into line by Baki is being thwarted – and by the PNG courts. (Montesquieu would be turning in his grave.)
Besides, there is far too much secrecy surrounding all of this; firstly the Fraud Squad operating on high-profile cases covertly and without the knowledge of the Police Commissioner, then there’s the Fraud Squad and Sam Koim from Task Force Sweep receiving funding from an unknown, and likely inappropriate, source and now Greg Egan playing ‘I’ve got a secret’ with the approbation of a National Court judge, It’s highly irregular and I’m wondering what they’ve got to hide, aren’t you?
Goodness, I know that sometimes the law is an ass, but this time I don’t think the law was necessarily followed, so who is the ass really…and how do you combat questionable judicial decisions and dubious protocol, because I’ve been dedicating far too much ink to it lately?