The High Court in Lilongwe has sustained an order for Judicial Review in a case in which some civil society organisations (CSOs) obtained an injunction to stop government from tabling the controversial Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO)Act (Amendment) Bill in Parliament.
The Bill was supposed to be tabled during the just-ended Parliament sitting only to be foiled by the CSOs who sought a court injunction.
In a judicial review case number 4 of 2018 between Centre for Human Rights Rehabilitation Centre (CHRR), Youth and Society (YAS) and Centre for Development of People (Cedep), against Parliament and Leader of Government in the House, the CSOs asked for a leave for judicial review of the decision to table the bill, describing it as draconian and evil.
Judge Charles Mkandawire in his determination dated December 18 2018 seen by Nyasa Times, granted an order stopping the tabling of the Bill following an ex parte application and ruled that the “substantive matter” to come for hearing on January 8 2019 in his Chambers.
The Judge said the CSOs have raised “an arguable case” which should go for a full inquiry.
“Having heard the arguments from both parties, I am satisfied that each case has to be looked at as it stands,” reads the Judge’s determination in part.
“Much as I do agree with the Attorney General that the only section thatthe Claimants have cited is Section 43 of the Constitution which deals with administrative action, I am of the view that the court should have full arguments on merit from both sides in order to come up with an informed decision,”said Mkandawire in his determination.
Government’s plan to table the Bill may only materialise next year, if a session of Parliament is summoned before the May 21 2019 Tripartite elections.
Lawyer for the CSOs Wesley Mwafulirwa has welcomed the ruling, saying they will now prepare for the main hearing as directed by the court.
Senior State advocate Neverson Chisiza could not immediately comment, saying he needed to consult the Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale.