Toropo judicial review case halted

A judicial review proceeding filed by former PNG Defense Force Commander Gilbert Toropo for his dismissal has been halted by the Waigani Supreme Court.

Justice Derek Hartshorn, who sat as sole judge of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, stayed judicial review proceedings filed by Toropo against the National Executive Council (NEC) and the Attorney General as nominal defendant for and on behalf of of the Governor General.

This was after the court upheld Solicitor General Tauvasa Tanuvasa’s submissions during an ex parte hearing seeking leave to appeal a National Court ruling by Acting Judge Emma Wurr last month. .

Mr Tanuvasa told the court that the trial judge erred in law when she used her discretion to hear Toropo’s claim and, furthermore, granted a stay of the NEC’s decision on December 31 of last year without considering that the Attorney General’s office never received notice of application for leave to judicial review pursuant to Order 16, Rule 3(3) of the National Court Rules.

Toropo had filed the petition in the National Court, which raised questions that the NEC had violated Article 193 of the Constitution in revoking his appointment.

He said the NEC’s appointment of Colonel Mark Goina was not made in consultation with the Civil Service Commission and that the NEC did not give him the opportunity to have a say in the dismissal of his appointment.

His appointment as PNG High Commissioner to New Zealand was suspended at the time.

“The Attorney General has not been formally advised of the court documents, and the state, as the general authority responsible for the attorney general, and the governor general (as head of state) have not not properly named as parties to the proceedings.

“The appellants and the state are entitled to these documents, before or after judicial review is granted,” Mr. Tanuvasa said.

The court, after considering these submissions, ordered that pursuant to section (5)(1)(b) and section 19 of the Supreme Court Act, it determined that a stay shall be granted to National Court orders dated December 31, 2021, and that Toropo National Court’s JR case is to be stayed “pending the disposition of this appeal.”