Court refuses bid to stay amendment debate

​An application asking the Supreme Court to temporary stop Parliament from further debating two proposed Bills to increase election nomination fees and election petition security fees has been refused.

This comes after arguments were put before a three-man Supreme Court bench on February 27.

A unanimous decision from that bench was delivered today by Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia.

The court was of the view that serious issues were raised by the Ombudsman in the application over the proposed amendments however there was no evidence or proper material before the court, of those who will be affected by the proposed amendments.

Despite the court having the jurisdiction to intervene in parliament’s law making process and grant orders sought by the Ombudsman Commission in this particular application, it was of the view that the balance of convenience did not favour the granting of interim reliefs.

Instead the court will now proceed to hear substantive arguments from counsels representing the Ombudsman Commission, the Prime Minister as well as the Chairman of the Constitutional Law Reform Committee.

Parties in the reference will return to court on Monday, March 13 where directions will be issued. A tentative hearing date will also be set then. 

The reference was filed by the Ombudsman Commission for the Supreme Court to find out 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.  

On Aug 19, 2016, the proposal 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 took place on Feb 1. The third and final reading and vote will take place between April 2 and 19 because the issue of writs will be on April 20.

Sally Pokiton