COV-19 positive voters can’t cast ballot after High Court ruling

High Court

The High Court has dismissed an application for an injunction to postpone Tuesday’s general elections, clearing the way for Barbadians to go to the polls.

Madame Justice Cicely Chase, after nearly eight hours of submissions and deliberations, declared she had no jurisdiction to adjudicate on the matter.

Philip Catlyn who filed the application described the result as a “slap in the face” for thousands of citizens, while his attorney Lalu Hanuman said the judgment was “dubious”.

The applicant contended that the rights of Barbadians under Section 6 of the Representation of the People Act were being trampled. He also accused President Dame Sandra Mason of acting unreasonably when she accepted Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s request for an election, in circumstances where thousands of people could be disenfranchised.

Hanuman, a human rights lawyer, was referring to the exclusion of the eligible voters who are among the over 6,000 COVID-19-infected people who, by law, are required to isolate.

However, Justice Chase declared that the claims against Dame Sandra raised a controversy pursuant to the Election Offences and Controversies Act Cap 3.

According to the Act, such issues can only be heard by a special election court comprising three judges.

“This court is a High Court and it is not an election court to hear election petitions. While it can hear applications of judicial review, this is a controversy which must be properly commenced under Cap 3,” she said.

“The action has been incorrectly filed in the High Court – that is the opinion of this court –, it being a fully blown controversy as to whether the COVID-19 patients who are in isolation should be able to vote in a normal manner.”

The Electoral and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has assured the public that all COVID-19 protocols will be observed on polling day.

Judge says special court would have to hear claims against President  Barbados Today


Dean Nestor

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