NEWS

Voter Name Change Requirements Challenged In Court

In their application for Constitutional Redress, the individuals are seeking a variety of declarations in respect of the amendments to the Interpretation Act and the Electoral (Registration of Voters) Act.
25 Feb 2022 11:16
Voter Name Change Requirements Challenged In Court

An application for Constitutional Redress filed by seven individuals challenging amendments to the Registration Voters Act and the Interpretation Act was heard at the High Court in Suva yesterday.

The seven individuals who are represented by Jon Apted of Munro Leys appeared before Chief Justice Kamal Kumar.

They are Yashmin Nisha, Adi Asilina Davila Toganivalu, Lavinia Rose Bernadette Rounds Ganilau, Shiromani Priscilla Singh, Elizabeth Catherine Reade Fong, Leba Seni Nabou Khan and Salote Raikolo Qalo.

Acting for the defendants, the Attorney-General, the Supervisor of Elections and the State was Devanesh Sharma of R. Patel Lawyers and Gul Fatima as his co-counsel.

In their application for Constitutional Redress, the individuals are seeking a variety of declarations in respect of the amendments to the Interpretation Act and the Electoral (Registration of Voters) Act.

Mr Apted submitted that his clients’ rights to vote were being suspended due to the requirement of a birth certificate name being the only name accepted by the Fijian Elections Office.

He submitted that this was in breach of their constitutional rights and discriminatory toward women based on their gender and marital status.

Mr Apted also submitted that as per the information provided during parliamentary debates, a large number of Fijian women were directly affected by this law.

Mr Sharma submitted that this case was not about rights of women or even a large number of Fijian women for that matter.

It was simply about the seven individuals who Mr Apted was representing, he said.

He submitted that the laws were consistent with the provisions of the Fijian Constitution and that the provisions relied upon by Mr Apted have prescribed limitations.

He also added that Fijians, whether male or female, had the choice to update their birth certificate names with their married names, if they wished to vote under their married names.

He said the choice remained with the individual to register to vote under a name he or she wanted – provided that the name is legitimate and appears on his or her birth certificate.

He further added that every single affidavit filed by the individuals was in breach of the provisions of the Interpretation Act as the affidavits were not deposed in the name appearing on the individual’s birth certificate.

He submitted that this showed a flagrant defiance of the laws as they stand today, the same laws that the individuals have come to court to challenge.

Chief Justice Kumar will deliver his judgment on notice.

Feedbackwati.talebula@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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