Friday, 7 December 2007 1:20 PM

Moti Files Suit in High Court on GG's Proclamation

The Attorney General, Mr. Julian Moti QC, has filed a suit in the High Court, challenging the constitutionality of the Governor General's proclamation last Friday, the 13th of December, as the next meeting of the National Parliament.

Mr. Moti said that the Originating Summons was filed on Monday and the principal parties to the action are the Prime Minister as Plaintiff and the Governor General as First Defendant.

"There's nothing unusual in naming the Governor General as a respondent when he is not immune from suit for his executive actions under our Constitution," said Mr. Moti.

He said that His Excellency has no reason to be 'perturbed' about anything.

"His Excellency has no reason to be 'perturbed', and previous Prime Ministers have sued previous Governor Generals in the country, so there's clear precedent for what I am doing, I am not mad," added Mr. Moti.

"We have also joined the Leader of the Official Opposition and the Leader of the Independent Members as Second and Third Decedents, respectively, because they have an obvious interest in the outcome of the case and must be heard as well," he said.

Mr. Moti said that all three defendants were served yesterday and "as soon as they enter their appearances, we will request the Registrar to list the matter for an urgent hearing".

The Attorney General explained that the action sought judicial clarification and resolution of two constitutional issues arising from the Governor General's recent intervention into his political process.

According to Mr. Moti, until those questions are conclusively settled by the judiciary, the same problems will surface again and again to threaten and undermine the practical operation of our constitutionally-established principles of executive responsibility.

"Now is a politically opportune time for the judiciary to determine them once and for all," Mr. Moti added.

The first question deals with the legal status of the Standing Orders which were adapted by the National Parliament in 1982 under Section 62of the Constitution.

The Attorney General argues that the Section 62 stated very clearly that the Standing Orders are made 'subject to the Constitution'.

Moreover, Mr. Moti said that Section 2 of the Constitution emphatically provides that their Constitution is 'the supreme law of Solomon Islands' and overrides any laws that are inconsistent with it.

He said that the Standing Orders 7 (3), to the extent that it purports to authorize the Governor General to change the date of any meeting of Parliament 'after consultation with the Prime Minister', appears inconsistent with the requirement in Section 31 (1) that he must always 'act in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet' or a Minister authorized by the Cabinet.

"... that is the essence of our contention with the GG's recent actions," Mr. Moti added.

He said that the second question addresses the legality of the Proclamation, which was issued by the Governor General allegedly without any effective consultation between him and the Prime Minister on the choice of December 13th as the appointed date for the next meeting.

"Whether such matters should be dedicated by the GG upon advice, or after consultation with the Prime Minister, and what precisely is involved in the consultation process to dispel its 'token' practice must now be judicially determined for posterity and the better consultation governance of this nation," said Mr. Moti.

He referred to judicial guidance on these vexed matters of constitutional significance as the foundation for disciplined restraint on the exercise of executive power.

The Attorney General, Mr. Julian Moti, responded to the application by the Leader of the Official Opposition's lawyer, Gabriel Suri, to derail these proceeding.

Mr. Moti said he hoped that Mr. Suri would reconsider his tact when he realizes that Section 31 (3) only ousts the jurisdiction of courts to inquire into the GG's actions when the Constitution requires him to act on advice or after consultation.

"We are challenging the GG's failure to do that under the Standing Orders, and not the Constitution, and that is the gist of our action and the reason why Mr. Suri might want to review his advice and proposed application," said Mr. Moti.

The Attorney General, Mr. Moti said he will refrain from further commentary on the case until it is heard and decided by the High Court.

Letters to the Editor All Letters
By STEVE BANI Vura Heights, East Honiara
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province