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Numbers list stays

Shalveen Chand
Monday, August 25, 2014

THE High Court in Suva defined time in section 30(5) of the Electoral Decree in regards to objections and dismissed the case by the Electoral Commission against the Supervisor of Elections yesterday.

The court ordered the Electoral Commission had to give a decision 72 hours from the receipt of the objection.

In his judgment, Justice Kamal Kumar said the drafters of the decree were at fault for not defining time in the section.

He said if an objection is filed at 1pm on the closing day, a decision should be expected within 72 hours of that time.

He said the objections register had specific column for time and date and from that it could be concurred that three days would mean giving a decision three days to the time in the register.

Section 30(5) states the Electoral Commission must make a decision on the objection with written reasons as soon as possible and in any event within three days upon receipt of objection.

Justice Kumar said Mr Saneem was right in not following the directive of the commission because if he had, he would have violated the Electoral Decree.

The judgment means that Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem was right in proceeding to draw the National Candidates List with the list that was finalised on August 19 and ignoring the directives of the commission to include and exclude names from the decision made by the commission after 4pm on August 22.

The judgment means that FijiFirst party candidate Praveen Bala Kumar remains on the National Candidates List while Fiji Labour Party's Steven Singh is out.

The National Candidates List drawn on Saturday will remain and be used for the election.

The Electoral Commission took Mr Saneem to court on Saturday afternoon seeking clarification on the interpretation of the law related to objections and asked the court to make the National Candidates List draw null and void and order a redraw.

Mr Saneem's argument was the commission had not given any decision at 4pm on Friday August 22, 72 hours or three days after objections had closed.

He, therefore, had to proceed to the draw and since it was after the deadline, he could disregard the directive to ensure the electoral process continued and all targets set could be achieved within the time frame.

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