Suit Challenging Digital Address Requirement For Ghana Card Thrown Out
An Accra High Court has dismissed an application filed by Mr Francis Kwarteng Arthur seeking to prohibit the National Identification Authority (NIA) from making the provision of a digital address code a prerequisite for procuring the National Identification card.
The applicant, among others, contended that the digital address code was entirely unknown to the laws of Ghana; therefore asking him to produce the code was illegal, unreasonable and discriminatory.
However, Justice Gifty Agyei Addo, who presided over the Human Rights Division of the High Court, which heard the case, stated in her judgment that the entire reliefs sought by the applicant had no legal or factual basis.
The applicant, she said, could have provided the Court with evidence of persons who were issued with the card despite their inability to provide a digital address code.
However, in the absence of any such evidence, she did not see how the applicant was discriminated against and, therefore, awarded a cost of GHc3000 in favour of the National Identification Authority.
The judge pointed out that the applicant had no capacity to make an application under Article 33 of the 1992 Constitution for the grant of remedies for the good of the entire society.
Per Article 2 of that Constitution, the proper forum to ventilate matters of public interest in respect of constitutional provisions was the Supreme Court, and not the High Court.
On the basis of the evaluation supra, she said the entire reliefs of the applicant had been dismissed as having no legal or factual basis.
From the evidence before the Court, which was not being challenged by the applicant, the NIA was empowered to issue National Identity Cards upon registration of applicants who would provide the requisite information, he said.
NIA was sued in Frebruary 2019
Mr Kwarteng Arthur sued the NIA on February 19, this year, asking the Court to prohibit the NIA's registration officials from demanding digital address code before registering and issuing Ghana Cards to eligible Ghanaians.
He said in July 2018, the NIA announced the registration of members of the Ghana Bar Association for the cards in Accra.
Being a member of the GBA, he submitted himself for registration.
However, the NIA registration officials demanded for his digital address code.
As he was unable to provide the information, he was unable to secure the card.
Mr Kwarteng Arthur, in his claim of reliefs against the NIA, also contended that his right to administrative justice and to equality or non-discrimination was likely to be violated by the NIA.
He, therefore, prayed the Court to restrain the NIA from further interfering with or violating his rights to acquire the Card, as well as a mandamus compelling the NIA and its officers, agents, assigns or privies whatsoever or howsoever described or called, to register and issue a card.
The Court should also to provide any other remedies that it deemed fit for the greater good of the Ghanaian society as a whole.
The NIA, in its response to the application, stated that its registration officials acted in pursuant of the National Identity Register Act, 2008 (Act 750) as amended by the National Identity (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 950).
The Authority explained that the law required its registration officials to demand a digital address code from prospective applicants to enable them to register for the card.
Therefore, that request by its Registration Officials was legal, reasonable and non-discriminatory.
It denied violating the applicant's rights to administrative justice and, thus, appealed to the Court to dismiss his claims.
Mr Justice Srem-Sai was the Counsel for the Applicant; whilst Mr Kwaku Asirifi led the NIA's Legal Team.