Parties to be served copies of OC reference

Four possible interested parties are expected to be served copies of the reference Ombudsman Commission filed on Feb 8, which seeks clarification on the proposed amendments to increase election nomination fees.

The Speaker of Parliament, the Attorney General, Electoral Commission and chairman of the Constitutional Law and Reforms Commission, are to be served the reference by February 16.

The Commission must serve the reference on the four parties, including an application seeking interim orders. If these parties are interested in the reference, they are to file responding statements by February 21.

Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia issued the directions to Ombudsman Commission’s counsel Dr Vergil Narokobi today.

The court also issued an order for Acting Chief Ombudsman, Michael Dick, to file an affidavit or statement in support of an application they filed, within two days from today.

The application filed is asking the Supreme Court to issue interim orders to restrain further deliberation on the proposed amendments until the Reference is heard and deliberated upon by the Court.

The court was told that on Feb 1, 2017, the second reading on the proposed amendment took place in Parliament and the first vote transpired in favour of the amendment. The final reading is yet to take place and the constitution amounts that the last reading must take place two months after the second reading.

The case will return to court on Feb 23 at 9.30am for hearing before a three-judge Supreme Court bench.

In this reference, the OC wants 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 Commission, through the Supreme Court Reference, will ask the Court to consider the question of whether the proposed amendments to section 103 of the Constitution, and section 87 and section 209 of the Organic Law on National and Local-level Government Elections, are constitutional.

OC’s lawyer, Dr Narokobi, said they want the Supreme Court to interpret whether the amendments are reasonably justifiable in a democratic society, having proper regard for the rights and dignity of persons.

Sally Pokiton