Judge dimisses PL constitutional claim on human rights breach

Labour Party’s claim that its fundamental human rights were breached in a decision by the Constitutional Court, in which it declared a previous court’s allocation of extra parliamentary seats to the PN to be null, dismissed

A judge has dismissed the Labour Party’s claim that its fundamental human rights were breached in a decision by the Constitutional Court, in which it declared a previous court’s allocation of extra parliamentary seats to the PN to be null.

Judge Joseph R. Micallef, presiding the First Hall of the Civil Court in its Constitutional jurisdiction, quoted a Constitutional judgment Carmel Cutajar vs Attorney General et, which remarked that “the task of this court is to ascertain whether or not there has been a breach of rights protected by the Convention, not to decide whether or not previous court decisions had been correct.”

Readers would be forgiven for finding Labour’s claim confusing, as the decision it was complaining of had been decided in its favour. To clarify, the case centres around a vote counting error on the 8th district during the general election where a packet containing 50 votes belonging to PN candidate Claudette Buttigieg had been allocated to PN candidate Michael Asciak by mistake.

Labour candidate Edward Scicluna was elected as a result of Asciak’s elimination.

In addition, on the 13th district, 10 votes belonging to PN candidate Frederick Azzopardi were lost, leading to the election of Labour candidate Justyne Caruana.

The PN had filed court proceedings against the Electoral Commission and the Attorney General, requesting it be awarded the two seats, as the errors had affected the outcome of the election result.

In February 2015, the First Hall of the Civil Court in its Constitutional jurisdiction had ordered the Electoral Commission to award two additional seats in parliament to the PN. But the end of May that year, the Constitutional Court had annulled that decision, holding that the Labour Party should have been included as a party to the case and sending it back to the First Hall for the case to be reheard.

The case which was dismissed today had subsequently been filed by the Labour Party, in objection to a part of the Constitutional Court’s decision which held that the First Hall had jurisdiction over the issue. Labour argued that the Constitutional Court had not allowed it to present its arguments on that issue, and had thus breached its right to a fair hearing.

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