Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has warned the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration.
He has told them Parliament has the power to remove any Judge if it’s necessary.
This can be through a motion and a vote in Parliament.
The Prime Minister issued the warning in response to concerns raised by Falealili Member of Parliament, Fuimaono Samuelu Te’o, when Parliament discussed the Judicial Service Commission last week.
“If Parliament perceives the Judges are not doing their job accordingly, we can remove them by way of motion and a vote,” Tuilaepa said.
“The Judiciary should pay attention prudently, when Members of Parliament are elaborating issues.
“It is also important the prevailing mutual respect among the Executive Branch, Legislative and the Judiciary.”
Tuilaepa said it’s important for the Judiciary to heed the concerns raised by Members of Parliament because they represent their respective districts.
He revisited the past and Parliament’s Commission of Inquiry into the Land and Titles Court.
“If Judges had continuously refused the demand for them to appear, the Committee would have set aside the mutual respect and summon them and if they still did not attend, Parliament has the power to act accordingly.
“At the same time, Parliament should be cautious in utilising that authority and it will be the last resort for Parliament.
“The same standard should be applied in our decision making so we do not abuse the authority.”
Fuimaono also spoke in Parliament about the retirement age for the Judges.
“I think that regulation should be reconsidered and instead of setting the retirement age for the Judges, the Judicial Service Commission should conduct assessments periodically.
“If they see the Judges decisions are unfounded and biased, they should act accordingly,” was the appeal by Fuimaono.
Member of Parliament, Sulamanaia Tauiliili Tuivasa, called for the removal of the retired judge under proposed amendment for the Judicial Service Commission.
Rather Sulamanaia asks for the Bill to allow a Church Minister to utilise this seat.
The J.S.C. comprises the Chief Justice, the Attorney General and a representative of the Ministry of Justice.
And the measure proposes for three new members, President of the Land and Titles Court, a retired Supreme Court Judge appointed by the Head of State on the advice of Cabinet and the Registrar of the Supreme Court as the secretary of the Commission, who shall have no voting rights.
“Why do we need a retired Judge to be a member when the Judge is retired?
“I agree to add more members however, why do we need a retired Judge when there have been numerous complaints by members of the public in regards to decisions by the court.
“I am not ashamed to say that some have taken to the grave their anger towards the decisions.
“It is gratifying the current administration has moved to make the necessary amends to address these problems, for the betterment of our people,” said Sulamanaia.
Tuilaepa reminded the lawmakers the older you get, the wiser you are.
“Despite the fact that under the law caps the age of retirement, this does not take away the knowledge gained from experience.
“One of our Judges had to retire in compliance with our local statute compulsory retirement age and is now a Judge in Niue.”
According to the M.P, there are also grumbles on the appointment of Judges.
“I reject allowing a retired judge on the Judicial Service Commission. We don’t need a retired Judge.
“Also it goes against the current law setting the bar on the ages for Judges, so why do we need a Judge?”
He appeals for the Government to consider a seat for a Church Minister.
“Another aspect of the Bill I think needs to be changed is the fact the Registrar of the Supreme Court shouldn’t be limited to just being the Secretary of the S.J.C. and also does not hold voting powers.
“I also request for the Government to consider allowing women into the Judicial Service Commission as a Secretary.”
Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, commends the Government for increasing the members for the Judicial Service Commission, including a secretary, given that it’s been 55 years and there has been no record from this commission.
“I conducted my research that there are no minutes or records of any kind for the Judicial Service Commission.”
He also appealed to the S.J.C. to look at the authoritative clause where Lands and Titles Court decide how many Chiefs that families can have.
“Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the Judges, but they have no authority to allocate as to how many Chiefs one family can have.
“The Chiefly Titles belong to us and our families and so it is not right for the Judges to make such dictations on family issues,” said Olo.