Court to hear challenge on 2012 poll nullification

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 12: Kuwait’s Constitutional Court will hear a case on Nov 28, 2012, three days before the elections, filed by Attorney Mubarak Al-Mutawa against the court’s decision to nullify the outcome of February 2012 election.

The verdict of this case could impinge on the election process in the upcoming elections, Al-Mutawa told the Arab Times in an exclusive interview Sunday.

The attorney, known for his human rights activism and currently fighting a case in the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Israeli aggression a few years back on the Flotilla crewmembers, said he is contesting the court’s ruling invalidating all the 50 MPs from the last Parliament.

Explaining his position, Al-Mutawa said two failed hopefuls from the 3rd Constituency in the February elections challenged the constitutional validity of the 10 MPs from their Constituency on the grounds that the election was recommended by a Cabinet that was technically illegal because its ministers had not taken the oath.

The Constitutional Court ruled in favor of the candidates by discounting the entire polling results and invalidating the election of all the 50 MPs. Al-Mutawa argues this ruling was unconstitutional in and of itself, for two reasons: firstly, a court verdict should be limited to the parties involved in the case, and not affect people who are outside it.

The 3rd Constituency candidates had challenged only the validity of the 10 MPs from their Constituency, and the court’s ruling affected all the 50 MPs, who did not even have a chance to present their case in front of the court. This is unconstitutional “as it infringes on the fundamental right to plead one’s case in the court. These 50 MPs had no access to the judicial procedure that ruled their Parliamentary bid invalid.”

Secondly, an oath is only a minor technicality, and to decree a functioning Cabinet’s recommendation for re-elections as unconstitutional based on this technicality is tantamount to using the word of the law to violate its spirit.

If Al-Mutawa wins the case, the December 2012 elections will be held only in the 3rd Constituency for 10 MPs, while the rest 40 MPs from the previous Parliament will be automatically re-inducted into the house.
Asked how hopeful he is of winning a favorable judgment, Al-Mutawa said he is only doing his duty as a citizen of this country interested in its welfare, “outcomes are in the hands of God.”

He added that he will continue to fight using the resources at his disposal, staying within the bounds of the law, “to save this nation from spiraling into chaos.”

Al-Mutawa said it’s a travesty of democracy that we have been having so many elections in so few years. “We had a strong and well-composed Parliament after the Feburary 2012 elections. We were seeing some good legislations coming out of this Parliament. The opposition was strong, and there was a balance of interests, and the Constitutional Court’s verdict against the election undermined the Parliament.”

Al-Mutawa took the example of the new legislation that cut down the legal detention period of accused individuals to 24 hours from 4 days, which favored human rights. “However, now that the house that passed this bill has been ruled illegal, we lawyers do not know if the legislation holds good or not.”
Last year, Al-Mutawa had fought a legal battle questioning the constitutionality of Counseling Room dispensation of justice system in Kuwait. Al-Mutawa explained that in this system cases are dealt by the highest court in Kuwait in private, closed rooms, without the presence of the involved parties.

“The cases are either declared rejected or accepted based on a sighting of the case papers without a fair hearing of the concerned parties or their lawyers. There is a lack of transparency as to on what basis the judgments are made. Some cases are accepted and some rejected, and this being the highest court, there’s no further appeal. This is not justice and goes against Kuwait’s constitution.”

Al-Mutawa’s case was not accepted by the court, and he is preparing to continue fighting using all legal options available to change this system. The attorney said the ruling against February 2012 election has undertones of this system, “because there too the affected parties i.e. the MPs had no say in the case.”

By: Valiya S. Sajjad Arab Times Staff

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