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Opinions of Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Columnist: Ace Ankomah

Post judgment brawl between Ramadan, EC needless – Ace Ankomah

In my mind the Supreme Court (SC) simply ordered two things:

1. Compliance with the first Abu Ramadan decision by deleting the names of those registered via NHI cards, under "processes established by law." Note: the SC did not "say processes established by EXISTING law ONLY," which is how some are reading it.

If the court had added this words, then its orders would be simply subverted by the EC saying "we have no such laws, so what you have declared cannot be implemented," or "we will do it in our own way, even if the result is that no one gets deleted." That would make a mockery of the SC.

Thus, if no processes currently exist that would lead to the deletion ordered by the SC, then those processes should be legislated into existence forthwith by the EC in compliance with the SC orders, since the EC is a self-legislating entity, and also because the orders of the apex court cannot be treated as, or interpreted in a manner that renders the entire process, an exercise in superfluity; and

2. The immediate, subsequent opportunity being afforded to anyone affected by the deletion to be properly registered because they did not break the law when the registered under it.
That's it.

This whole needless, pointless and unnecessary argument and brouhaha are answered by a slow, careful, non-partisan,, non-diabolical, no juju-and-tricks read of this paragraph:

We are in a great difficulty, however agreeing with the plaintiffs that by virtue only of the said infraction, the entire register has the attribute of unconstitutionality.

The said registrations were conducted under CI 72, which was the applicable legislation under which eligible citizens were registered before the 2012 elections. As the registrations were made under a law that was then in force, they were made in good faith and the subsequent declaration of the unconstitutionality of the use of cards should not automatically render them void.

The legitimate way of treating them is to have them deleted by means of processes established under the law. In view of the fact that these registrations were not effected in breach of the law, the persons affected thereby cannot be said to be benefiting from their own wrong such as to be deprived of their registration without being given the opportunity of being heard. As the said registrations were done before the declaration of unconstitutionality in the Abu Ramadan case (supra) to have their names deleted will have the effect of disenfranchising persons affected by it.

This approach enables us to do justice in a manner that preserves the rule of law and a stable constitutional order without affecting acts and or things which were previously ordered on the legality of the impugned provision in the Abu Ramadan case. We think that any person whose registration is affected by the decision in the Abu Ramadan case (supra) be given the opportunity to go through the process of registration to establish his eligibility or otherwise in order that the appropriate remedies provided under the law may be applied.

There being no credible dispute that the current register of voters was compiled under legal provisions deriving their legitimacy from the primary legal source, the entire register of voters cannot be said to have been compiled unconstitutionally.” That's it.