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High Court dismisses petition filed by well-known government supporters

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, May 29, CMC – The High Court has described as “an abuse of the process of the court” an attempt by two supporters of the government to remove two Nigerian students and all Commonwealth citizens from the Register of Voters.

Rupert Earle and William Liburd had by a claim form filed on January 13, 2014, petitioned the High Court seeking a declaration that the two Nigerian students – Oluwabunmi Jesufemi Ayorinde and Osanoto Akolade Samuel – who were studying medicine here were not qualified voters in the general election.

court rulThey also claimed that a person entering the twin island Federation as a student under the Immigration Act is not a person qualified to be registered as a voter; is not a resident under the Immigration Act and that a Commonwealth citizen entering St. Kitts and Nevis is not ordinarily resident here so as to be registered as a voter under the National Elections Act.

The two well-known government supporters, who were represented by attorney Jonel Powell, who contested the 2013 general election, also sought a declaration that a person entering St. Kitts and Nevis under a specific section in the Second Schedule of the Immigration Act is disqualified from being registered as a voter for the purpose of electing representatives.

Earle and Liburd also sought a declaration that persons entering St. Kitts and Nevis as students under the Immigration Act, in the Register of Voters is contrary to law and thus null and void and of no effect and sought an Order of Mandamus to remove the two Nigerian students and all other persons entered on the Voters Register.

But in her judgement handed down last week, Justice Marlene Carter noted that “the National Elections Act has been the subject of much discussion and discourse, much of which has led to the Court having to make determinations on various aspects of that most important piece of legislation.”

She said that that Earle and Liburd through their attorney have pointed to no instance in which the registration process has been curtailed or interrupted by the court in a manner that they now seek to have the court do now.

“The effect of a declaration being granted would be to effectively usurp the decision of the Registration Officer and to circumvent the procedure as laid down by the provisions of the National Assembly Elections Act and the Election Registration Regulations.

“If the Court is to intervene in an action before the Registration Officer/Supervisor of Elections is afforded an opportunity to make a determination, this would seriously undermine the entire election scheme and process. The acts and rights that the Act and Regulations seek to regulate are sacrosanct in a democratic society. This principle has been stated again and again by these courts,” said Justice Carter.

She noted that Earle and Liburd made clear in their submissions that the matter is neither a judicial review nor a constitutional relief claim.

 “The respondents seek by way of declaration to circumvent the clear provisions of the Act. Given the very nature of the matters with which this Act is concerned and the nature of the right that it seeks to protect, this Court is unable to agree with the submissions of the respondents that it can intervene in a manner that is sought on the claim,”

The judge said that the High Court does not have the jurisdiction to intervene in the registration process in the manner sought by Earl and Liburd and referred to a ruling of Justice Ian Mitchell in the case Mark Brantley vs Joseph Parry in which Mitchell emphasized the importance of the notice provision with regard to objections of persons’ names on the Register of Voters and its vital function in the projection of the right to vote.

“This Court does not have the jurisdiction to entertain the claim as filed…the claim form is struck as being an abuse of process of the Court. This Court makes no order as to costs,” Justice Carter ruled.

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The Montserrat Reporter - August 18, 2017

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by STAFF WRITER

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, May 29, CMC – The High Court has described as “an abuse of the process of the court” an attempt by two supporters of the government to remove two Nigerian students and all Commonwealth citizens from the Register of Voters.

Rupert Earle and William Liburd had by a claim form filed on January 13, 2014, petitioned the High Court seeking a declaration that the two Nigerian students – Oluwabunmi Jesufemi Ayorinde and Osanoto Akolade Samuel – who were studying medicine here were not qualified voters in the general election.

court rulThey also claimed that a person entering the twin island Federation as a student under the Immigration Act is not a person qualified to be registered as a voter; is not a resident under the Immigration Act and that a Commonwealth citizen entering St. Kitts and Nevis is not ordinarily resident here so as to be registered as a voter under the National Elections Act.

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The two well-known government supporters, who were represented by attorney Jonel Powell, who contested the 2013 general election, also sought a declaration that a person entering St. Kitts and Nevis under a specific section in the Second Schedule of the Immigration Act is disqualified from being registered as a voter for the purpose of electing representatives.

Earle and Liburd also sought a declaration that persons entering St. Kitts and Nevis as students under the Immigration Act, in the Register of Voters is contrary to law and thus null and void and of no effect and sought an Order of Mandamus to remove the two Nigerian students and all other persons entered on the Voters Register.

But in her judgement handed down last week, Justice Marlene Carter noted that “the National Elections Act has been the subject of much discussion and discourse, much of which has led to the Court having to make determinations on various aspects of that most important piece of legislation.”

She said that that Earle and Liburd through their attorney have pointed to no instance in which the registration process has been curtailed or interrupted by the court in a manner that they now seek to have the court do now.

“The effect of a declaration being granted would be to effectively usurp the decision of the Registration Officer and to circumvent the procedure as laid down by the provisions of the National Assembly Elections Act and the Election Registration Regulations.

“If the Court is to intervene in an action before the Registration Officer/Supervisor of Elections is afforded an opportunity to make a determination, this would seriously undermine the entire election scheme and process. The acts and rights that the Act and Regulations seek to regulate are sacrosanct in a democratic society. This principle has been stated again and again by these courts,” said Justice Carter.

She noted that Earle and Liburd made clear in their submissions that the matter is neither a judicial review nor a constitutional relief claim.

 “The respondents seek by way of declaration to circumvent the clear provisions of the Act. Given the very nature of the matters with which this Act is concerned and the nature of the right that it seeks to protect, this Court is unable to agree with the submissions of the respondents that it can intervene in a manner that is sought on the claim,”

The judge said that the High Court does not have the jurisdiction to intervene in the registration process in the manner sought by Earl and Liburd and referred to a ruling of Justice Ian Mitchell in the case Mark Brantley vs Joseph Parry in which Mitchell emphasized the importance of the notice provision with regard to objections of persons’ names on the Register of Voters and its vital function in the projection of the right to vote.

“This Court does not have the jurisdiction to entertain the claim as filed…the claim form is struck as being an abuse of process of the Court. This Court makes no order as to costs,” Justice Carter ruled.