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Abu Ramadan, others back to Supreme Court

abu_ramadanThe applicants in the voters register legal impasse have gone back to the Supreme Court seeking clarifications on whether or not the court ordered the Electoral Commission (EC) to delete names of persons who registered with National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards in 2012 from the national voters register.

The applicants in the voters register legal impasse have gone back to the Supreme Court seeking clarifications on whether or not the court ordered the Electoral Commission (EC) to delete names of persons who registered with National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards in 2012 from the national voters register.

Order

They are also praying for an order directing the EC “to remove the names of persons who used the National Health Insurance Scheme card and others who had not lawfully established qualification to register from the current register of voters forthwith and provide those who remain eligible and subsequently establish qualification to register under law an opportunity to do so in time to participate in the general election of 2016.”

Confusion

The current application stems from the confusion that has rocked different quarters on the import of the Supreme Court’s May 5, 2016 order.

Some are of the view the court did not explicitly state that the names of persons who registered with NHIS cards in 2012 should be deleted from the register and be allowed to register again after they have proven their eligibility, while others, including the applicants, insist the court made such an order.

The other part of the order that is not in contention is the deletion of names of deceased persons and minors from the national voters register.

Submission from counsel

A statement of case filed on behalf of the applicants by their lawyer, Nana Bediatuo Asante, said where the rules of Court does not expressly provide for the procedure for originating a process, a party may apply to the Court for a remedy pursuant to the inherent jurisdiction of the Court.

“It is our further submission that even where the rules of Court make a provision accordingly, the Court’s inherent jurisdiction may still be invoked in addition to the said rule.

“Thus, the rules of Court are not a substitution for the Court’s inherent jurisdiction but an addition thereto.

It is our respectful submission that where a judgment is subjected to diverse interpretations, and thereby thwarts compliance with orders there under, a party may apply to the Court which delivered the judgment for clarification and/or further directions,” counsel submitted.

Referring to the EC’s interpretation of the court’s order, which is inconsistent with the position of the applicants, counsel submitted that “where a party, who is otherwise the target of court orders, places a construction or interpretation on such orders that is manifestly inconsistent with the intention of the court, another party may apply to the Court to give clarifications and/or further directions.

“It is the applicants’ case that given the basis and theory of the claims brought in the substantive suit, the declarations and orders made by the Court, looked at in good faith, are susceptible to only one reasonable meaning, that, in the result, the names of those persons who have not established qualification to be registered be deleted forthwith from the current register of voters without further ado.”

Those persons, counsel argued, included those who used the NHIS Card to register, as well as those who did not qualify by reason of age at the time they registered.

Respondent

The statement of case said “the respondent takes the position that it accepts the judgment of the Court that its directives are clear, but then goes on to interpret the orders in a manner that applicants find inconsistent with the intentions of the Court.

“First of all, applicants take the view that it is not true that respondent cannot unilaterally delete the names of persons from the register when it has been so ordered by the Supreme Court following proceedings in which the deletion of names is an issue.

The applicants are of the firm contention that respondent’s claim that the court essentially endorsed its preferred mechanism for cleaning the register and/or that the court’s orders required exclusive recourse to its exhibition and challenge mechanism in complying with same was misconceived.

“With respect, it makes absolutely no sense for this Court to go through what are essentially proceedings challenging the presence on the register of the names of unqualified persons, make findings such as that their continued presence on the register is unreasonable and does not make same reasonably accurate or credible, make orders intended to cure the problem and yet require respondent, in complying, to also go through another set of proceedings, in each such case, for a district magistrate and his committee to determine what this Court has already determined: that the names of a certain category of persons on the register be removed,” the statement of case argued.

According to the statement of case, the EC’s view of the meaning and effect of the orders could not be correct, having regard to the requirement that immediate steps be taken to comply with the order to delete or clean.

“It has already been over a month since the orders were made and even by the most liberal construction capable of being put on the word “immediate” there has been a clear failure on the part of the respondent to comply,” the statement of claim said.

It further argued that the judgment sets out clearly why the applicants’ relevant reliefs were dismissed and applicant’s contend that it could not have been the intention of the Court to encumber the discretion of the EC to adopt the validation process, as described by applicants in this suit or otherwise, as a useful and effective auditing tool.

“It is our contention, therefore, that a reading of the dismissal of applicants’ relevant reliefs (4(a) and (b)) in the substantive suit as a bar to respondent adopting the validation process to comply with the orders of this Court or at all, or that this Court did not order the deletion of the names of persons who used the NHIS Card to register and deceased persons is misconceived and we urge your Ladyship and Lordships to so declare,” it said.

General election

The applicants are arguing that the 2016 general election had been slated for November 7, 2016 and it was, therefore, crucial that the court’s orders were carried out fully and immediately as directed.

“Therefore, the conduct of the respondent, if allowed to stand, will render the orders of this honourable court nugatory.

“The obviously entrenched position of the respondent makes the determination of this application and a further direction to respondent to immediately delete the names of persons who registered with NHIS Cards, as proof of qualification, and other undesirable names from the register of voters, in order to conform to the 1992 Constitution and applicable law, most compelling and urgent,” the statement of claim submitted.

 

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