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Poll case

Shalveen Chand
Sunday, August 24, 2014

THE High Court in Suva will deliver its ruling on notice today after the Electoral Commission took the Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem to court yesterday afternoon seeking clarification on the interpretation of the law related to objections.

Mr Saneem was served with court papers at lunch yesterday and the High Court sat at 5pm and went on until 7.30pm.

In court, commission chairman Chen Bunn Young acting as co-counsel for the commission asked the court to clarify the view of the Supervisor of Elections on whether he was right or wrong in not following a directive of the commission and proceeded to draw the National Candidates List.

Mr Saneem drew the National Candidates List yesterday with names finalised on August 19 despite a directive by the commission not to do so with the list and requested for the draw to be postponed to today.

After the draw, Mr Saneem said the commission had failed to give a decision on the objection and review by 4pm on Friday and this meant sections 30 and 31 of the Electoral Decree were being frustrated and therefore he proceeded to draw the National Candidates List.

The Electoral Decree states that after objections have been received, a decision should be made by the commission in three days.

Mr Saneem said the three days expired at 4pm on Friday while the commission said three days expired at midnight on that day.

The commission's counsel, Adish Narayan, told the court the commission was of the view that their action was right in law and not that of the Supervisor of Elections.

He said if this was so, then the commission was seeking an order for a redraw of the National Candidates List.

Acting Solicitor-General, Sharvada Sharma who was counsel for the Supervisor of Elections, argued the High Court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the case as stated in Section 173 (4) of the Constitution.

Mr Sharma said Mr Saneem could not have followed a directive which was unlawful and proceeded to do things which were unlawful as well.

He said Mr Saneem had to take the actions he did because he was confined by time as per the Electoral Decree to have all processes complete in time as there were 28 days left for the general election and certain things had to be done.

Mr Narayan argued the court had jurisdiction to hear the case and make a ruling as this was the only avenue prescribed in the Constitution to deal with the matter.

Mr Sharma said if the decision was to go in favour of the commission, then they were submitting that a redraw not take place but the names be substituted and drawn number stay the same because according to the decision by the commission, Fiji First party's Praveen Bala Kumar goes out and in comes Fiji Labour Party's Steven Singh.

He said if the numbers were redrawn, then a lot of people would be confused as candidates had already started promoting their numbers.

Mr Narayan said the commission was of the same view.

Justice Kamal Kumar said he would deliver his ruling today and parties would be identified one hour in advance.





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