Denial of Steven Singh’s constitutional rights: FLP
The Fiji Labour Party stongly condemns the decision of the Supervisor of Elections to disqualify FLP candidate Steven Singh, despite the review ruling by the Electoral Commission that Mr. Singh was qualified to contest the 2014 general elections.
Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry says the Supervisor’s decision seriously compromises the entire electoral process and, annuls the process of drawing of candidate numbers.
Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem had disqualified Mr Singh’s candidature based on a conviction that had actually been set aside by the Courts. His appeal against the rejection was subsequently upheld by the Commission in a letter dated 22 August 2014 which stated: “There is … no conviction against Mr Singh that might disqualify him from being nominated”.
Mr Chaudhry said the Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem, had himself admitted in a telephone conversation with him that he had made a mistake in disqualifying Mr. Singh and that he would recommend to the Commission that the review be allowed.
But in a technical wrangle between the Supervisor and the Commission yesterday over a deadline for review decisions, Mr Saneem rejected the Commission’s upholding of the appeal.
“Why should a person be denied his constitutional right to contest the elections because of a mistake made by the Supervisor in the first place?” Mr Chaudhry asked.
Labour has sought legal advice on the Supervisor’s ruling and has been informed that the “purported rejection by the Supervisor of Elections is unlawful and in contravention of the Electoral Decree and the Fiji Constitution 2013.
Section 76 (3) of the constitution states: “The Supervisor of Elections must comply with any directions that the Commission gives him or her concerning the performance of his or her functions”.
“Mr Singh is highly aggrieved that his rights are being denied to him by the dereliction of duty of the Supervisor of Elections and the Electoral Commission in ensuring that his right to candidacy is not prejudiced by the apparent wrangling between the two electoral authorities,” said FLP lawyer Anand Singh.
FLP’s lawyers have written to the Electoral Commission lodging a protest on the matter, warning of the possibility of constitutional redress proceedings being instituted should it not be resolved satisfactorily.
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