Tongan court rules law does not apply to a noble

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Tonga’s Appeal Court has upheld a decision saying a law did not apply to a nobleman.

A member of Parliament, a nobles’ representative, was elected in 2021 despite the fact he had a court debt.

It is forbidden by law for someone to stand as a candidate with debt over a set amount.

The Supreme Court ruled this law does not apply to noble representatives, and the Appeal Court agreed.

RNZ Pacific’s Tonga correspondent Kalafi Moala said it was a significant case.

“The legal case was against a particular noble who is a member of our parliament. And so the claim was during the 2021 election, and he was a candidate while at the same time he was owing a card debt. In our Constitution if you owe a card debt, you cannot be a candidate or run for office.

“This was brought before the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court ruled that the constitutional clause claiming that the noble cannot be elected only applies to commoners, only applies to people’s representatives.

“The significant thing about this is that it’s bringing a lot of public reaction, because there is a clause in our constitution that says that Tonga’s laws for chiefs, commoners, Europeans and Tongans they should be enacted for one class, and equally, and not for another class.

“The public is beginning to question that there may be other laws in tongues that is applicable to common people, but not to the nobles.”

The Legislative Assembly of Tonga comprises 17 people’s representatives elected by the people and nine nobles’ representatives elected by the nobles themselves.

SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS