The Supreme Court yesterday unanimously granted an order restraining the electoral Commission (EC) from using National health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) identity cards in the impending voter registration exercise.
The EC had scheduled a revision of the voters’ register for last week to register citizens who had recently turned 18 and sought to use the NHIS cards for the registration ahead of the 2016 elections.
But Abu Ramadan, National youth Organiser of the people’s National Convention (PNC), Kwasi Danso-Acheampong and Evans Nimako, a farmer, filed separate suits, which were later merged, to challenge the EC over the use of the NHIS cards as a means of identification for the exercise.
The PNC National youth Organizer was suing the EC for allowing the use of the NHIS card as one of the identity cards to be used for the registration of persons who turned 18.
Abu Ramadan also sought an order of perpetual injunction to restrain the EC from using the NHIS card and other identification cards that do not establish qualification to register voters.
Mr. Ramadan described the use of NHIS cards as proof for qualification to register voters as ‘unconstitutional, void and of no effect’ since it is tantamount to an applicant registering twice or more. he therefore sought an order of perpetual injunction to restrain the EC from using the NHIS cards.
The seven-member panel presided over by the Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood unanimously ruled in their favour, preventing the EC from using the NHIS cards for the registration.
She said the use of the NHIS card to register a voter pursuant to regulation 13 (d) of CI 72 is inconsistent with Article 42 of the 1992 constitution, indicating that ‘by the powers conferred on us by Article 22 of the 1992 constitution, the said regulation is hereby struck out.’
The court also granted the request for an order of a perpetual injunction restraining the EC from using the NHIScard to register voters.
The ruling therefore gives the EC the green-light to commence the registration exercise which was earlier put on hold by the court, but without the use of the NHIS cards.
The court however fixed October 17 as the date on which it would give reasons for its ruling.
7th Judge Travels
Prior to the judgement, the Chief Justice told the court that the seventh judge, Justice A.A. Benin, who was currently engaged at the eCOWAS court, had given his consent for the judgement.
Earlier, moving his motion, lead counsel for the plaintiffs Nana Asante Bediatuo, had wanted the court to make a decision on whether or not upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 42 of the 1992 constitution, the NHIS card is proof of qualification to register as a voter.
He also wanted a decision on whether or not upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 42 of the 1992 constitution, an existing ID card could be used as proof of qualification to register as a voter pursuant to regulation 13 (e) of CI 72, adding that it will be tantamount to an applicant registering twice or more and therefore unconstitutional.
Kwasi Danso-Acheampong who associated himself with Nana Bediatuo, in a submission, said parliament had no power to bless the CI 72 that the EC brought to the house because it opened a window of opportunity for non Ghanaians to stray into the country’s elections.
He warned that the country should not use subtle ways to get non-Ghanaians into its elections because of the passion associated with its politics.
Responding, James Quarshie- Idun, counsel for the defendants, while praying the court to dismiss
the motion of the plaintiffs among others, sought an interpretation on whether the use of the NHIS card under CI 72 is proof of qualification to register as a voter or use of evidence of identity or identification.
He also wanted a declaration on whether regulation 13 (e) (d) of CI 72 is inconsistent with Article 42 of the 1992 constitution.
Other members on the panel were Justices Sophia Adinyira, Jones Victor Dotse, Kwasi Anin yeboah, Sulley Gbedegbe and J.B. Akamba.
By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson
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