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Supreme Court excludes old voter IDs and birth certificates for voter registration

BY: Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson
Mrs Jean Mensa - Electoral Commission Chairpoerson
Mrs Jean Mensa - Electoral Commission Chairpoerson

The Supreme Court has dismissed two suits that were seeking the use of the existing voter identification card and birth certificates as the source documents for the upcoming voter registration exercise.

Graphic Online’s reporter, Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson who was in the courtroom reported that in a unanimous decision Thursday, June 25, a seven-member panel of the Supreme Court dismissed the case by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) which wanted an order for the use of the existing voter ID card and one Mark Takyi-Benson, who wanted the use of a birth certificate as source documents for eligibility to register as a voter.

The Supreme Court further held that the Electoral Commission (EC) has the authority granted under Article 45 of the 1992 Constitution to compile an electoral roll.

The apex court granted only two reliefs sought by the NDC which had nothing to do with the inclusion of the use of an existing voter ID card as source documents and dismissed all the other reliefs.

It was a total of eight reliefs that were before the Supreme Court.

Granted reliefs

b. 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;


c. 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;

Dismissed reliefs

d. 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;

e. A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of the Constitution, specifically Article 42, the 2nd Defendant’s purported amendment of Regulation 1 sub-regulation 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;

f. 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 of identification to enable a person register as a voter without any legal basis or justification is arbitrary, capricious and contrary to article 296 of the 1992 Constitution;

g. A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of the Constitution specifically Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution, proof of identification for registration as a voter should not be limited by the provisions of Public Elections (Registration of Voters)(Amendment) Regulations, 2020;

h. 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;

Order

The Supreme Court ordered that the compilation of the new register should be in compliance with C.I 126.

What does C.I. 126 say

The C.I. 126 makes the Ghana Card and the Ghanaian passport the only legal identification documents for registering people in the new biometric voters' register.

Under the C.I. 126, those who do not have the Ghana Card or Ghanaian passport can still register provided they are able to get two already registered voters to vouch for them.

Below is a copy of the Supreme Court's ruling

What Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, General Secretary of the NDC said after the Supreme Court ruling on NDC vs. EC. [Watch the video below]

IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF JUDICATURE, THE SUPREME COURT (CIVIL DIVISION) SITTING IN ACCRA ON THURSDAY THE 25TH DAY OF JUNE, 2020.

 

CORAM: YEBOAH C.J (PRESIDING), DOTSE, BAFFOE-BONNIE, GBADEGBE, MARFUL-SAU, AMEGATCHER AND KOTEY, JJ.S.C

                                                                       

 

CONSOLIDATED WRITS

                                                                                                            SUIT NO.  J1/9/2020

 

NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS                               -           PLAINTIFF

VRS

  1. ATTORNEY-GENERAL
  2. ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF GHANA -            DEFENDANTS

 

AND

SUIT NO.  J1/12/2020

MARK TAKYI-BANSON

H/NO. BN34, BREMAN KOKOSO                                             -           PLAINTIFF

ASIKUMA-ODOBEN-BRAKWA

VRS

  1. ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF GHANA
  2. THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL             -            DEFENDANTS

Parties:-

Johnson Asiedu Nketia representing the Plaintiff in JI/9/2020 as General Secretary.

1st Defendant absent in J1/9/2020.

Samuel Tettey representing the 2nd Defendant in J1/9/2020 and 1st Defendant in J1/12/2020.

Plaintiff in J1/12/2020 present.

Counsel

Godwin Tamakloe for the Plaintiff in J1/9/2020 with him Seth Nyaaba.

Godfred Yeboah Dame, Deputy Attorney General for the 1st Defendant in J1/9/2020 and 2nd Defendant in J1/12/2020 with him Clarence Kuwornu, Chief State Attorney.

Justin Amenuvor for the 2nd Defendant in J1/9/2020 and 1st Defendant in J1/12/2020 with him Hope Agboado.

Cosmas Anpengnuo for the Plaintiff in J1/12/2020.

 

BY COURT:-

As per the attached orders the decision of the Court is unanimous.

 

SUIT NO. J1/9/2020

By a unanimous decision the following orders are hereby made:-

RELIEF ONE

Already struck out as withdrawn.

RELIEF TWO

This relief is granted subject to the fact that all eligible voters must make themselves available  for registration as directed by the Electoral Commission pursuant to Public Elections (Registration of Voters) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 C. I. 126.

RELIEF THREE

This relief is granted subject to the Voter Registration card issued to an eligible voter under the prevailing constitutional Instrument C. I. 126.

RELIEF FOUR

Dismissed

RELIEF FIVE

Dismissed

RELIEF SIX

Is dismissed

We however reiterate the decision of this court in Abu Ramadan & Mimako (No.2) v Electoral Commission & Attorney-General (No.2) [2015-2016] 1 SCGLR 1 where the court per Benin JSC stated:

If the law provides for alternative ways of performing the task, the discretion is vested in the actor in deciding within the limits imposed by article 296 of the Constitution as to which one of them would best suit the task on hand.”

The court continued by re-emphasising the fact that the Electoral Commission in exercising their discretion in the discharge of their constitutional mandate in cleaning the voters 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.

RELIEF SEVEN

It is dismissed subject to the provisions contained in C. I. 126.

 

RELIEF EIGHT

It is refused and we also reiterate our decision in Abu Ramadan (No.2) supra where this court held that the Electoral Commission in performing their mandate under Article 45 of the Constitution 1992 cannot be compelled to act in a particular manner unless there is clear evidence that they have acted unconstitutionally.

SUIT NO. J1/12/2020

RELIEF ONE

Is dismissed

RELIEF TWO

Is dismissed

RELIEF THREE

Is dismissed and we reiterate this court’s decision in Abu Ramadan (No.2) already referred to supra in Suit No. J1/9/2020.

RELIEF FOUR

Is dismissed and we reiterate our position in Abu Ramadan (No. 2) supra.

RELIEF FIVE

Is dismissed

We reiterate this court’s decision in Abu Ramadan (No.2) where the court stated that:-

“In the exercise of its original jurisdiction, it was not permissible for it to substitute its own decisions for that of the body of persons exercising the discretion conferred on it by the Constitution unless they act contrary to it. The court further emphasized that, that was necessary to keep the court itself within its proper limits in order to give effect to the supremacy of the law.”

RELIEF SIX

Is dismissed as same has already been dealt with in relief three supra.

CONSEQUENTIAL ORDERS

In the exercise of the powers conferred on us under Article 2 (2) of the Constitution 1992, we hereby make the following orders:-

  1. It is hereby ordered that all stakeholders and the Ghanaian eligible voters are directed to comply with Articles 42 and 45 of the Constitution and the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 C.I. 126 as regulated by the Electoral Commission i.e. 2nd Defendants in Suit No. J1/9/2020 and 1st Defendants in J1/12/2020 in carrying out their constitutional mandate in the compilation of a new voters register.
  2. By this decision, the Electoral Commission i.e. 2nd Defendants in Suit No. J1/9/2020 and 1st Defendants in Suit No. J1/12/2020 are hereby directed to commence the compilation of the voter registration exercise as scheduled.
  3. By these decisions and, by virtue of Article 130 (2) of the Constitution any court in which same or similar action is pending or yet to be filed shall apply the decision rendered by the Supreme Court in these consolidated suits.

Reasons will be filed on or before the 15th of July 2020.

 

SGD.                   ANIN YEBOAH

      CHIEF JUSTICE

SGD.                     J. V. M. DOTSE

JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT

SGD.                P.  BAFFOE-BONNIE

JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT

SGD.                          N. S. GBADEGBE

JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT

SGD.                          S. K. MARFUL-SAU

JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT

SGD.                          N. A. AMEGATCHER

JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT

SGD.                      PROF. N. A. KOTEY

JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT