Pleading for alternative reliefs allowed in law – Kwaku Azar ‘challenges’ Supreme Court over NDC vs EC case
Law activist and academician Prof Stephen Kwaku Asare has countered the Supreme Court’s declaration that a party cannot plead for alternative reliefs in the case of the NDC vs EC.
The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) yesterday withdrew from the Supreme Court its case against the Electoral Commission of Ghana over its mandate to compile a new register.
The NDC was virtually forced by the Supreme Court to take that decision after the court told NDC lawyers that a party cannot be seeking a relief and also asked to be granted another relief in the alternative.
In simple terms, the court said the NDC cannot ask court to declare the attempt by the EC to compile a new registration exercise as unconstitutional and in the second leg ask that the court declares the decision of the EC to exclude an existing voter ID as a form of identification for the exercise as unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court asked the NDC to select one case and strike out the other.
But in reaction, Kwaku Azar believes the court cannot force a plaintiff to choose which reliefs it is pleading for.
Read his full opinion below:
The impression must not be created that plaintiffs cannot plead for alternative reliefs. They can!
For instance, a Presidential candidate filing an Article 64 petition can claim as follows:
The person declared president elect was not validly elected. So the declaration should be annulled and the plaintiff declared validly elected.
The person declared president elect was not validly elected. So the declaration should be annulled and new elections held in the whole country.
The person declared president-elect was not validly elected. So the declaration should be annulled and new elections held in some constituencies where voters voted without being verified. etc.
The Court cannot force a Plaintiff to choose one of these three reliefs. If the Court suggests that the Plaintiff choose one, Plaintiff has to explain why the three reliefs can coexist and leave it to the Court to determine whether it only wants to rule on one of them.
So we must interpret what happened today as a situation where NDC itself decided that it is no longer interested in pursuing the argument that the EC cannot compile a new voters’ register.
Of course, Courts allow pleading in the alternative to save its own time. Otherwise, Plaintiffs will flood the courts with separate writs based on the same set of facts.