Mele in the process of appointing paramount chief
The Supreme Court has ordered and directed the Mele Village Council to meet by June 30, 2011 to settle procedures according to custom for the appointment and ordination of the Paramount Chief of Mele Village.
The Supreme Court also ordered and directed that Mele Village Council makes necessary arrangements in order for the appointment and ordination of the Paramount Chief to take place before 31st October 2011.
The orders were made by the Supreme Court Justice Robert Spear on 06th June 2011 in Civil Appeal Case No. 128/2009 between Chief Simeon Poilapa IV and Tasil Malastapu (Appellants} and Kalokai Masaai (Respondent).
In delivering the judgment on June 6, Justice Spear stated that (1) the case involves an appeal from the decision of the Magistrate’ Court that relates to the paramount chiefly title of Mele Village. It is a case that has been outstanding for too long and this has led to uncertainty and disagreement as to the leadership and governance of the people of Mele Village (2) This decision is on a preliminary point taken by the Respondent. It is whether this Court has jurisdiction to entertain this appeal. Formerly, this point is raised by an application by the Respondent to strike out the appeal. (3) The history of this case is of interest but it is not essential to the consideration that this preliminary issue requires. Be that it may, because of the significant interest in this case it is convenient to set out the essential findings of the Courts below before turning to the preliminary issue required to be determined.
The Judgment then made reference to the Island Court decision of 16th May 2008 on the case which was appealed in the Magistrate Court and the subsequent decision of the Magistrate court of 29th September 2009. The appeal was dismissed by the Magistrate Court.
The Case of the title of the Paramount Chief of Mele reached the Supreme Court as Civil Appeal Case No.128/2009 having been through Efate Island Court and the Magistrate Court.
The Appeal Case No.128.2009 was strike out by the Supreme Court on June 06th 2011.
In the judgment of the Supreme Court Justice Spears made the following conclusion:
(31) Accordingly, I rule that this Court has no jurisdiction to entertain this appeal which challenges determinations as to custom and not of either fact or law or mixed fact and law.
(32) This leaves the people of Mele Village with a settled and final process for determining the next paramount Chief of Mele. For convenience, I restate the orders of the Island Court with some slight alterations to assist with the progressing of the appointment process. A. The Island Court has determined that only the lesser chiefs represented by each nakamal that exist in Mele Village today have the ultimate authority and power according to the principles of custom rules to appoint and ordain the paramount chief of Mele village; b. The Mele village Council is now directed to call a meeting by 30, June 2011 to settle procedures according to custom (explained in paragraph 32 (a) above for the appointment and ordination of the paramount chief of Mele village; c. The Mele Village Council is directed to make the necessary arrangements in order for the appointment and ordination of the paramount chief to take place before 31st October 2011.
(33) Those orders are now to be followed without further hesitation. If necessary, I will entertain an application for further directions if there is obstruction to this appointment and ordination process.
(34) I leave it for the Respondent to bring this decision to the attention of the Mele Village Council.
(35) The Appeal is accordingly struck out subject only to leave reserved for further directions as explained in paragraph 33. Costs are to be argued if they cannot be agreed.
The Supreme Court Judgment was delivered by Justice Robert Spear on June 6, 2011.
The members of the Mele Village Council of Chiefs called into Daily Post to say that arrangements is being made to follow the Court orders. The Council has call a Meeting with the population of Mele Village to be held tomorrow Thursday 29, to explain to the people of Mele the Court Orders and then proceed to make arrangements for the appointment and ordination of a Paramount Chief of the village.
The issue of the title of the Paramount Chief of Mele has been going on for eight years according to Ati George Sokomanu, Advisor to the Mele Village Council of Chiefs.