Lessons from the court rulings on two suits against the EC

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Two starkly contrasting opinions with regard to the High Court’s ruling on the suit by PPP presidential candidate Dr Paa Kwesi Ndoum challenging his disqualification from the presidential race by the Electoral Commission, have emerged.

One opinion is that the court’s quashing of the disqualification of Dr Nduom represents a victory for the PPP and democracy. The other is that the ruling betrays the Electoral Commission’s lack of understanding of the country’s electoral laws and the extent of the Commission’s powers as contained therein.

We are inclined to accept the first opinion and reject the second, because the administration of justice is dynamic and dependent on how the law is interpreted by judges. That is why the administration of justice is not restricted to one category of law courts but a hierarchy of courts.

That is why an aggrieved citizen seeking legal redress may take his case through a chain of courts starting from the lowest court of jurisdiction through several superior courts to the Supreme Court.

Different judges interpret the law according to their own understanding of its provisions: A hypothetical figure of a panel of five judges sits on a case: Three vote in favour of a conviction or the granting of reliefs sought. Two dissent. The accused or respondent files an appeal. Seven judges sit on the appeal, and hear the very same evidence as the lower court and by a majority decision, uphold the appeal.

An aggrieved citizen dissatisfied with an Appeal Court ruling may proceed to the Supreme Court. Even a reconstituted panel of the Supreme Court can review the court’s own ruling.

The opinions which emerged from the High Court’s ruling on the Nduom case were the same opinions that greeted the Supreme Court ruling that the Electoral Commission must allow party agents access to signed collation sheets.

A citizen, Mr Kwesi Tease-Eshun last September dragged the EC to court, arguing that the failure of the Commission to allow contesting candidates or their agents to sign collation sheets in the parliamentary and presidential elections, was inconsistent with the constitution and the duties of the EC.

Lawyer for the plaintiff, Mr Akoto Ampaw appeared to be beside himself with pleasant surprise, that the Supreme Court not only granted all the reliefs sought by his client, but “even more.”

This we dare say, is ample testimony that the rule of law and use of the courts remain the most democratic and lawful avenues for the pursuit of legal redress in election disputes. Our hope is that all such disputes will always be quickly heard and disposed of by the courts with similar dispatch.

 

Source: TheGeneral Telegraph