The Supreme Court has concluded hearings in the case filed by resort tycoon and presidential hopeful Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP) against the Elections Commission (EC), requesting the apex court annul the first round of the presidential election.
Submitting his closing statement the JP lawyer and running mate of Gasim, Dr Hassan Saeed, told the Supreme Court that the party was seeking three remedies from the court.
The first remedy the party sought, explained Saeed, was for the Supreme Court to declare that the voters list used during the election had undermined the constitutional right of the citizens to cast their ballot.
The second request, he continued, was for the Supreme Court to declare that the EC had formulated the list in contradiction of the general election laws, as well as the prerequisites set forth in its own pre-election ruling.
This ruling in question ordered all relevant authorities ensure facilitation of a free and fair presidential election, with the EC remaining duty bound to address any possible errors regarding details on the voter registry.
The third and final request made was for the apex court to declare that the presidential election held on September 7 is void and invalid, Saeed told the seven-member Supreme Court bench.
Attorney General’s contribution
In summing up his case, Saeed said that the party’s allegations – including double voting, voting in the names of deceased people, and underage voting – had been given additional weight after being acknowledged by the Attorney General during hearings.
Saeed also repeated his criticism of the security features on the ballot paper, as well as the under-performing of the Ballot Progress Reporting System (BPRS) – a web based application used by the EC officials at polling stations.
Saeed stressed that the BPRS system’s failure had left polling stations prone to double voting.
Referring to the statements given by the JP’s witnesses, Saeed noted that the party had produced sufficient documentary evidence to substantiate its claims.
He explained that the JP – being a private party – did not have the same resources as a state institution, and therefore the evidence provided was intended to prove that the entire election process was a systematic failure rather than to prove individual cases of misconduct.
In the closing statement given by the Attorney General’s Office, the Solicitor General Ahmed Usham told the court that the state did not wish to take sides in the matter and had only intervened in the case to present the complaints that President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan had received through government agencies.
Meanwhile Ahmed Zaneen Adam, representing the PPM – which had also intervened into the case, told the court that it was imperative it uphold the rights of the people to elect their ruler.
He said that issues concerning the elections had caused doubts among the public regarding the sincerity of the EC.
Zaneen followed Saeed in reiterating the JP’s request that court annul the first round of elections and call for a fresh presidential election with the discrepancies amended.
Election Commission’s closing remarks
Responding to the remarks made by Saeed, EC lawyer Hussain Siraj stressed to the court that the JP had not been able to prove any of their allegations against the commission.
Siraj also requested the court distinguish between procedural irregularity and substantive irregularity in deciding the case. He argued that Saeed’s allegations, even if proven to have happened, would indicate only procedural irregularity rather than a substantive irregularity.
This would be insufficient grounds to annul the election, argued Siraj.
The EC lawyer also responded to the claims made in the JP’s closing statements, but was frequently interrupted by the judges – most notably the former Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, whose name had appeared on the injunction ordering the run-off’s postponement. Abdulla Saeed requested Siraj to shorten his speech.
The EC lawyer, in his plea to the court, requested that it rule there were no reasonable grounds to declare the voters list invalid and thereby there were no reasonable grounds to void the September 7 elections.
In concluding the hearing, the Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz announced that unless the court required clarifying matters from the parties, it will issue a verdict at the next hearing.
However, shortly after the hearing concluded, an additional case requesting the court delay the run-off was filed by Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed – running mate of PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen.
A member of EC’s legal team told Minivan News that a hearing of Jameel’s case against the EC had been scheduled for Thursday at 2:00pm.