Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda has certified as a constitutional matter the case in which some individuals and civil society organisations (CSOs) sought an injunction to stop government from effecting a 21-day national lockdown.
In a notice dated April 30 2020, the Chief Justice said the matters in the case comply with Section 9(2) of the Courts Act which stipulates that matters relating to or requiring interpretation of the Constitution shall be heard and disposed of by or before not less than three judges.
Reads Nyirenda’s certification: “Reference Number 1 of 2020 being Judicial Review Cause 22 of 2020, before Honourable Justice Kenyatta Nyirenda sitting at Lilongwe.
“The proceedings registered as Judicial Review Cause Number 22 of 2020 hereto attached and matters raised therein contained are hereby certified as having complied with Section 9 (2) of the Act.”
In his ruling on April 28 in which he sustained the injunction he had granted against the lockdown on April 17, Kenyatta Nyirenda said the nature of the issues raised required him to refer the matter to the Chief Justice for certification.
Human Right Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and the Church and Society Programme of CCAP Synod of Livingstonia were among parties that stopped implementation of the lockdown which Minister of Health Jappie Mhango indicated was meant to contain the further spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale, whose office did not defend the case, could not be reached for comment on Thursday while one of the lawyers representing the claimants, Wesley Mwafulirwa, said they will now await the setting of a judges’ panel and commencement of the proceedings.
The lockdown was scheduled to roll out at midnight April 18 to midnight May 9 with a possibility of extension. But the announcement sparked spontaneous protests nationwide before HRDC went to court to obtain the order.n