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NDC cut to size over voters’ register

June 26, 2020 By 0 Comments

The Supreme Court, constituted by a seven-member panel, has, in a unanimous decision, dismissed the call by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and one Mark Takyi-Bandon for the use of the voters’ ID card for the impending voter registration exercise. The court has, similarly, dismissed claims that the Electoral Commission (EC) cannot compile a new register.
Per the ruling of the court, which was presided over by Chief Justice Justice Annin Yeboah, and sat in Accra yesterday, the EC can commence the compilation of the new Voter Register, as contained in the amended 2020 Constitutional Instrument (C.I. 126).
The court, which had justices V. M. Dotse, Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, S. K. Marful-Sau, N. A. Amegatcher, and Professor N. A. Kotey as other panel members, however, granted two of the reliefs sought by the opposition party.
One of the reliefs was a declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution, particularly article 42, upon the registration of and issuance of a voter identification card to a person, that person has an accrued right to vote, which cannot be divested in an arbitrary and capricious manner. This was granted pursuant to Public Elections (Registration of voters) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 C.I. 126.
The justices, after dismissing the reliefs sought by the NDC, indicated specifically that they still stand by the decision in the Abu Ramadan and Nimako versus Electoral Commission and Attorney-General.
The court continued by re-emphasising the fact the Electoral Commission, in exercising its discretion in the discharge of its constitutional mandate in cleaning the voter register, should be deemed as authorised to be acting within the law and the regulations therein, and cannot be faulted, even if it is considered that there is a more efficient mode or method available.
Background
The NDC had gone to the apex court to seek the following reliefs: A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 45(a) of the 1992 Constitution, 2nd Defendant has the constitutional power to, and can, compile a register of voters only once, and thereafter revise it periodically, as may be determined by law. Accordingly, 2nd Defendant can only revise the existing register of voters, and lacks the power to prepare a fresh register of voters for the conduct of the December 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.
OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE
A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution, specifically article 51 read conjointly with article 42 of the Constitution, the power of the 2nd Defendant to compile and review the voters’ register must be exercised subject to respect for and the protection of the right to vote;
A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution, particularly article 42, upon the registration of and issuance of a voter identification card to a person, that person has an accrued right to vote, which cannot be divested in an arbitrary and capricious manner;
A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution, particularly Article 42 of the Constitution, all existing voter identification cards duly issued by the 2nd Defendant to registered voters are valid for purposes of identifying such persons in the exercise of their right to vote;
A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of the Constitution, specifically Article 42, the 2nd Defendant’s purported amendment of Regulation 1 subregulation 3 of the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2016 (C.I 91) through the Public Elections (Registration of Voters)(Amendment) Regulations, 2020, to exclude existing voter identification cards as proof of identification to enable a person apply for registration as a voter is unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever;
A declaration that the 2nd Defendant, in purporting to exercise its powers pursuant to article 51 of the 1992 Constitution, to exclude the existing voter identification cards from the documents required as proof of identification to enable a person register as a voter without any justification, is arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable and contrary to article 296 of the 1992 Constitution;
A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of the Constitution, specifically Article 42, proof of identification for registration as a voter should not be limited by the provisions of Public Elections (Registration of Voters) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020;
An order directed at the 2nd Defendant to include all existing voter identification cards duly issued by the 2nd Defendant as one of the documents serving as proof of identification for registration as a voter, for the purposes of public elections;
Any other order or orders as this Honourable Court would deem fit in the circumstances.
The capacity in which the Plaintiff is bringing this action is as follows:
The Plaintiff brings this action in its capacity as a citizen of Ghana to seek the interpretation and/or enforcement of the provisions of the Constitution under Articles 2(1) (b) and 130(1) (a) thereof.



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