By CHRISTOPHER PAPIALI
On the 24th May 2012, Chief Justice, Sir Alamo Inja was charged on sedition. Sedition is ‘actions or words intended to encourage overthrow of a state’ (Answers.Ask.com).
The O’Neill government at that time saw the Chief Justice showing allegiance to Sir Michael and O’Neill government saw this as another form of bias in which all judicial/constitutional interpretations will not favor O’Neill government. Five days after the arrest of the Chief Justice, Justice Nicholas Kiriwom was also arrested.
The arrests of both senior judges occurred as a result of the ruling in which they made whereby Sir Michael and his government acted and existed within the meaning of the constitution and not O’Neill/Namah government.
The arrest of Chief Justice and his brother judge sparked a great concern across all legal fraternity, civil society, and international community. It was viewed that the independence of judiciary was the hallmark of rule of law in a democratic state.
Those who were following the political impasse believed that office of the Chief Justice should be clean and should remain impartial, performing duties within law.
When the government was formed a fortnight ago, the Chief Justice played a lead role in presiding over very important constitutional duties in the parliament house. And as a sign of goodwill and peace,the heavy tactful enforcer, Hon. Beldon Namah stood from his seat, walked over and shook hands with Sir Salamo Inja.
The philosophical and ethical debate on the independence of the judiciary should be continued within the learned and leaders of church, civil society and the international community. This debate should explore grounds leading to the performance of the Chief Justice and the chair he occupies. This particular chair should not be tainted with corrupt nodes that one politician or any other person can easily pull down or plug it which certainly will disintegrate and disrepute Chief Justice Chair.
There is no smooth road to political governance and administrative functions in PNG. Contentious issues cannot be easily watered down and for the worst part may be any constitutional reference or legal hearings that can be pushed further and finally left for the Chief Justice to decide.
This government, knowingly or unknowingly, is tasked to make its stand on the office of the Chief Justice. Likewise, the Judiciary should come out openly clarifying its duties and responsibilities. There is an urgency to restore credibility on the independence of the Judiciary once more. The Chief Justice cannot hide in his chambers and puts out legal claws that causes conflict and humiliates his fellow judges.