Report – By Shalveen Chand in Suva
Elections Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the nominations dispute between the Electoral Commission and the Supervisor of Elections could have been settled before going to the court.
Sayed-Khaiyum said the law was quite specific, that the Electoral Commission must give a decision within three days and the court had upheld that.
Justice Kamal Kumar ruled 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.
Sayed-Khaiyum said: “The court has ruled and said the electoral process is time bound. You have to have the nominations by a particular date, the objections by a particular date and therefore the ruling in respect to the Electoral Commission has to be within three days itself.
“The court has therefore held that the clock started ticking as far as the Electoral Commission is concerned on Tuesday at 4pm and the three days ended at Friday afternoon at 4pm.
“And the court has upheld that the directives by the commission has to be within the law. It is very critical, otherwise if you have directive powers you can tell anybody to do anything, what if it’s outside the bounds of law.”
Sayed-Khaiyum said the commission should have asked advice from the Solicitor-General.
“The court has also upheld that the commission consists of people who are well qualified to make this type of ruling. It is really a pity that the Electoral Commission didn’t see it fit to get an opinion from the Solicitor-General. They went overseas to two legal counsels to get an opinion.”
Sayed-Khaiyum said yesterday was the last day when the national candidates list should have gone to the printers as today would see other deadlines being met.
He said the court decision also meant that hard work by the Elections Office and its local and expatriate staff was not wasted.
Shalveen Chand is a Fiji Times reporter.