Chief Justice Albert Palmer has ruled in favour of the ‘strike out’ application in a landmark constitutional case this morning—meaning the parliament’s amendment to extend Parliament for seven months was constitutional.
The Leader of Independent John Kuku had challenged the extension of Parliament, claiming some parts of the process were unconstitutional.
The Speaker of Parliament was named as the first defendant, the prime minister and the governor general as second and third defendants respectively.
Kuku’s claim emanates from the events which transpired in Parliament from about the 6th September 2022, resulting in the tabling of the Constitution (Amendment Bill) 2022 for enactment to inter alia amend the specific provisions relating to the holding of the National General Elections by having the relevant section, being section 73(3) of the Constitution suspended so that Parliament does not stand dissolved until the 31st December 2023.
The constitutional challenge arises from the effect of that suspension and the process through Parliament by which the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2022 had been progressed through.
Kuku through his lawyer made the constitutional challenge by raising a total of seven (7) questions for determination by the court.
The principal contention of his claim is that section 61(3) of the Constitution requires that the Bill be read and voted upon twice at the final voting, which he construes as occurring only at the Third Reading. In other words, at the Third Reading, where the final voting occurs, before the Amendment Bill is passed, there must be two separate readings and two voting.
On the ground of frivolous and vexatious and an abuse of the Court Process, Timothy Mathews KC for the first defendant submits that the issues the Claimant now wishes to raise before this Court had already been finally and conclusively determined in the right forum by Parliament and is estopped from re agitating or re-debating those issues in this forum.
This was part of his submission for a strike out.
He points out that the Claimant was asking the Court to exercise a power it does not have to command the Third Defendant (Governor-General) to set a date for a National General Election.
He submits that section 31 of the Constitution places that responsibility squarely on the shoulders of Cabinet or a Minister acting in accordance under the general authority of Cabinet.
On the purported construction sought to be given to section 61(3) by the Claimant, Mr. Mathews submits that this approach is without merit and must fail.
He further submits that it assumes a requirement or procedure neither stated nor implied by the Constitution and seeks to have the Court read into the Constitution what it does not say nor intend.
In his ruling, Sir Albert has grant the application to strike out on the grounds that no reasonable cause of action is disclosed, and therefore is frivolous and vexatious and an abuse of the court process.
He also ruled that (ii) Questions 1, 2, 3 and 4 should also be struck out as being non-justiciable and academic in nature disclosing no reasonable cause of action.
Accordingly also order that the questions posed in Questions 5,6 and 7 be struck out as raising no reasonable cause of action, non-justiciable and academic in nature.
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