Court name
Supreme Court
Case number
CIVIL CASE 96 of 1950

Re margai (CIVIL CASE 96 of 1950) [1950] SLSC 17 (03 April 1950);

Law report citations
1950-1956 ALR SL 30
Media neutral citation
[1950] SLSC 17
Case summary:

Elections-qualifications of electors-alteration-revising officer not permitted to change nature of elector’s qualification-only correction of errors in register permitted-appeal was dismissed.

Coram
Smith, CJ

 

IN RE REGISTRATION OF MARGAI and IN RE APPEAL FROM
DECISION OF REVISING OFFICER

Supreme Court (Smith, C.J.): April 3rd, 1950
(Civil Case No. 96/50)

[1] Elections—qualifications of electors—alteration—revising officer not permitted to change nature of elector’s qualification—only correction of errors in register permitted: While a revising officer has the power under s.6(6), as amended, of the Schedule to the Sierra Leone (Legislative Council) Order in Council, 1924 to correct any apparent errors or mistakes in the register of electors, he has no similar power to change the nature of the qualification put forward by a prospective elector (page 32, lines 28-31).

The appellant appealed against the respondent’s decision to strike his name off the register of voters.

IN RE MARGAI, 1950-56 ALR S.L. 30

S.G.

In a form of application for registration as a voter, the appellant, with regard to the value of his qualifying property, wrote “Annual rentage paid exceeds £10.” The revising officer (the respondent) subsequently struck the appellant’s name off the register of voters on the ground of insufficient qualifications under the Sierra Leone 5 (Legislative Council) Order in Council, 1924. The appellant appealed against this action, seeking the ruling of the Supreme Court.

Legislation construed:

Sierra Leone (Legislative Council) Order in Council, 1924 (No. 1159),                                                                                             10

s.23(l):

The relevant terms of this section are set out at page 32, lines 8-9.

s.23(2): “The annual value of any qualifying property in respect of which any person shall claim to be registered as an elector shall be determined in the first instance . . . according to the amount at 15 which such property is assessed for the purposes of city rates or house tax . . . .”

Legislative Council (Election Regulations) Proclamation, 1924 (Proclam. No. 4 of 1924), Schedule, reg. 1(2):

The relevant terms of this regulation are set out at page 32, lines 14-22. reg.6(6), as substituted by the Legislative Council (Election Regulations) (Amendment) Ordinance, 1938 (No. 29 of 1938), s.4:

“The Revising Officer shall have the following powers in addition to any other powers given him under these Regulations:—

(b) to correct any errors or mistakes . . . .”                                                                                             25

The appellant appeared in person.

O.LE. During for the respondent.

SMITH, C.J.:                                                                                             30

This appeal comes before the court by way of case stated by the revising officer. This court is asked for its opinion on the following three points:

  1. Whether Margai, having filled in his notice of claim to be registered as a voter in this manner “Annual rentage paid exceeds 35 £10,” has complied with s.23(l)(d)(i) of the Sierra Leone (Legislative Council) Order in Council, 1924?
  2. Whether, having found as a fact that there were four other

occupiers of the said premises, the revising officer was right in considering them as joint occupiers?                                                                                             40

  1. Whether, in view of these findings of fact and applying the

    law, the revising officer was right in expunging the name of Margai from the register of voters?

As regards the first question propounded, it would read better, I think, as follows: “Has Margai, by the use of the words ‘Annual rentage paid exceeds £10’ disclosed any qualification as required by s.23(l)(d)(i)?” Section 23(l)(d)(i) deals with the qualifications of voters and reads, so far as is material to this question, as follows: “[T]he owner or occupier (jointly or severally) of any house ... of which the annual value is . . . not less than ten pounds.” Section 23(2) lays down how the annual value of any qualifying property shall be determined in the first instance.

Turning to the Schedule to the Legislative Council (Election Regulations) Proclamation, 1924, we have at reg. 1(2) the following: “Every claim shall be in the form A in the Appendix . . . and shall [and I accent the word “shall”] contain the following parti­culars, namely: —

  1. The electoral district in respect of which the claim is made;
  2. The name in full of the claimant;
  3. The claimant’s address and occupation;
  4. The claimant’s age at his last birthday;
  5. The qualification in virtue of which a vote is claimed.”

In his notice of claim to be registered as a voter the appellant put in as his “qualification” the following: “Annual rentage paid exceeds £10 (ten pounds).” I am of the opinion that those words disclose no qualification at all under s.23(l)(d)(i) of the Order in Council.

As far as I can see, the revising officer has no power of changing the nature of the qualification put forward by the would-be voter, though he has power under reg. 6(6) of the Schedule to correct any apparent errors or mistakes. In this case, however, while there is no apparent error or mistake there is a complete failure to disclose any qualification under s.23(l)(d)(i) of the Order in Council.

In view of the above finding there is no need for the court to deal with the second question propounded. As regards the third question, I find for the reason stated above that the learned revising officer was correct in expunging the name of the appellant from the register of voters.

The appeal is dismissed with costs limited in accordance with the earlier ruling herein. The registrar is to comply with the requirements of reg. 9(6) of the Schedule.