Additional information needed in nomination fee case

Lawyers representing the National Parliament Speaker will inform the Supreme Court next week on what happens to proposed bills when parliament adjourns to go into election.

Justice Collin Makail, sitting as a single Supreme Court Judge today, directed the Speaker’s lawyer to seek instructions from his client and inform the court on this before further steps can be taken in the Reference that was filed by the Ombudsman Commission in February.

This is the reference which the OC filed seeking interpretation on whether the proposed increase of nomination fees, from K1,000 to K10,000, and the security of costs of an election petition, from K5,000 to K20,000, are constitutional.

The Ombudsman Commission is seeking the opinion of the Supreme Court on the constitutional validity laws in the forms of bills to amend section 103(2) of the Constitution and section 87 and 209 of the Organic Law on National and Local Level Government Elections. 

The proposed bill went through two of three required readings in parliament before the 9th Parliament term rose on Tuesday to go for election.

On Aug 19, 2016, the proposals to amend the fees were mentioned in parliament with the gazette notice released on Dec 1, 2016.

On January 26 this year, the first reading of the amendments took place. The second reading and first vote occurred on Feb 1. The third and final reading and vote will not take place now after parliament rose yesterday. The issue of writs will be on April 20.

The Ombudsman Commission is the referrer; Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is the first intervener or joiner in this case.

The Electoral Commission, Speaker of Parliament and Chairman of the Constitutional Law Reform Commission are interested parties seeking to be added however, that will be subject to the speaker’s instructions in court when the matter returns next Wednesday.

Sally Pokiton