Supreme Court’s order to EC a principle of fair hearing – Oppong Nkrumah
Information Minister - Kojo Oppong Nkrumah
Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has described the Supreme Court’s ruling on the compilation of new voter’s register by the Electoral Commission (EC) as one that defends the principle of fair hearing.
This comes on the back of the Supreme Court asking the EC to provide the legal basis for the compilation of a new voters’ register and also to provide reasons for disregarding the existing voters’ ID card.
According to Oppong Nkrumah, the decision by the court is only procedural but does not in any way, suggest how the final judgment will be determined.
“The basic principle in law called ‘Audi alteram partem’ says you cannot pronounce judgment on a matter without hearing from the other side. So if the Supreme Court is going to make a determination on an application that has been made about something that the Electoral Commission is doing, it only stands to reason that they will request to hear from the EC so that they are informed before they come to a certain ruling or judgment and I think anybody who knows how the legal system works in this country will actually appreciate that this is how the Supreme Court has gone by such issues.”
“I don’t know why anyone would jubilate over that and as I have explained, you cannot come to a judgment on a matter without hearing from the other side. So, if party A goes to the Supreme Court that party B is doing something which he considers untoward, the Supreme Court will have to hear from party B and therefore will have to request party B to address it properly whether on legal or public policy grounds. It is not my understanding that this is the final determination of the matter. My understanding is that the Supreme Court has requested of the Electoral Commission to furnish it with its legal grounds on which it is proceeding because the EC is doing something a party that feels aggrieved has applied to the Supreme Court and before it makes a decision must ask the other party to provide the legal basis for doing so.”
What is the background of the case
The dominant opposition party, National Democratic Congress (NDC) in March 2020 sued the Electoral Commission over attempts by the Commission to compile a new voters’ register for the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections.
In the NDC’s suit, they argue that the EC lacks the power to go ahead with its plans because it can only “compile a register of voters only once, and thereafter revise it periodically, as may be determined by law”.
According to the writ invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the NDC among other things demanded a:
“declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 45(a) of the 1992 Constitution, 2nd Defendant [the EC] 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.”
Also, the NDC is praying the court to declare as illegal, the decision by the EC not to use the old voter ID cards as registration proof in the compilation of the new register.
Adding that, the decision which is without any justification is arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable and contrary to article 296 of the 1992 Constitution.