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Court rebuffs State on UTM

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By Jameson Chauluka:

The High Court in Blantyre Wednesday dismissed an application made by the Office of the Attorney General (AG) to suspend the court’s ruling that the Registrar of Political Parties should register UTM as a political party within seven days from November 2.

The AG applied for a stay order stopping the court from executing the ruling made by Judge John Chirwa until the matter is heard at the Supreme Court of Appeal.

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But Chirwa dismissed the AG’s application, arguing that the decision by the High Court stands—which means that the Registrar of Political Parties is bound by law to register UTM and that this can only be reversed upon a ruling of the Supreme Court of Appeal.

“There are no good grounds advanced in the sworn statements in support of the application [by the AG asking the High Court not to execute the November 2 ruling] upon which the court would be persuaded to deprive a successful litigant fruits of his litigation. It is the considered view of this court that should the appellant within appeal be successful the same will not have been nugatory by the appellant’s compliance with the court order because the supreme court can, in that event, order the deregistration of UTM as a party,” reads the ruling in part.

High Court Judge Chirwa on November 2 ruled that the Registrar of Political parties was not justified to deny registering UTM on, among other grounds, that the party leadership did not clearly state what UTM stands for further ordering him to register UTM as a political party within seven days.

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AG’s office later appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court of Appeal and further asked the High Court to suspend execution of its ruling which forces the Registrar of Political Parties to registrar UTM.

The court had set November 13 for the interpartes hearing of the AG’s applications which falls outside its specified seven-day ultimatum.

Since the Registrar of Political Parties was legally bound to register UTM within the seven-day ultimatum which falls before the November 13, lawyers from the AG’s office went to the same court on Tuesday to seek an ex-parte order suspending the ruling before the date of the interpartes hearing.

Chirwa has then dismissed the fresh ex-parte application, further saying that there is no need for the November 13 interpartes hearing.

“The court having thus made the above determination, it sees no merit in proceeding with the application set for the 13th day of November, 2018. The same is hereby delisted,” he said.

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