THE Lusaka High Court has dismissed a petition in which the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) asked the court to determine the constitutionality of the Public Order Act.
High Court judge Evans Hamaundu said in a judgement delivered in Lusaka yesterday that the petition lacked merit and was wrongly taken to court.
This is a case in which LAZ is challenging the constitutionality of the Public Order Act, alleging that it is discriminatory to opposition political parties.
The association stated in its petition that Sections 5, 6 and 7 of the Public Order Act are in contravention of Articles 20 and 21 of the Constitution.
LAZ was prompted to petition the High Court following the police’s alleged denial to allow the United Party for National Development to hold public rallies despite notifying the police.
“In my view, I do not find the Public Order Act to be in contravention of Articles 20 and 21 of the Constitution. Therefore, the petition fails and since the matter was in public interest, I order that each party bears its own costs,” Justice Hamaundu said.
He said LAZ was supposed to commence the legal actions not as a petition or judicial review but as an appeal.
Mr Justice Hamaundu said LAZ, as an aggrieved party, should have taken the matter to court as a grievance and not as a petition.
He said the association had the option of appealing to the Minister of Home Affairs if it was aggrieved with the way the police were applying the Public Order Act.
Mr Justice Hamaundu said the matter was supposed to be taken to court as an appeal if the association or the aggrieved party was not happy with the Minister of Home Affairs’ decision.
He said when such a matter is taken to court as a grievance, it gives the court enough jurisdiction to determine the case because the court will be part of the grievance.
In its petition, LAZ stated that certain provisions of the Public Order Act are unconstitutional as they are contrary to the provisions of Articles 20 and 21 of the Constitution.
The association stated further that the Public Order Act does not give the full measure of enjoyment of the freedom of association, assembly and speech.