THE LUSAKA High Court has finally restored former President Rupiah Banda’s immunity.
High Court Justice Annie Sitali assented to the Consent Order filed before her which described the decision to lift Mr Banda’s immunity as null and void because the charges presented for the removal in Parliament differed from the criminal charges brought against him in the courts of law.
In his statement filed into the High Court, Mr Banda had argued that it was illegal and therefore null and vold for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to commence criminal proceedings on charges of corrupt practices when they were not among the reasons presented for the lifting of his immunity in Parliament.
Mr Banda therefore applied for “An order of certiorari to remove into this honourable court for the purposes of quashing the decision of the learned Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute the applicant (Mr Banda) for the offence of corrupt practices and concealing gratification which offences did not form part of any allegations tabled before the National Assembly prior to the removal of the applicant’s immunity from prosecution and further that the said decision be and is hereby quashed forthwith and consequently rendered null and void ab initio on the grounds set out in the amended statement accompanying the originating notice of motion,” the order read.
Mr Banda was granted judicial review in 2013 which also acted as a stay for the Courts to hear the matter and determine the directions of proceedings after the Speaker of the National Assembly had decided to remove the immunity of the former republican president on allegations of criminal charges.
The courts have acquitted the former president of all criminal allegations levelled against him, for which he lost his immunity in 2013.
Parliament voted to lift the immunity of Mr Banda on recommendations from the DPP, presented to Parliament in a lengthy proposal by then Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba despite numerous criticism from some sections of society and the opposition Members of Parliament.
The former head of state applied for Judicial Review against the decision to remove his immunity, to seek an order of certiorari to remove into court for the purpose of quashing the decision of the DPP to commence criminal proceedings in the subordinate court because of the different charges presented at parliament and charges brought before court.
He charged that the DPP’s decision presented procedural impropriety to commence court proceedings on the basis of an illegal decision by the National Assembly to remove his immunity against Parliamentary Rules of Procedure with respect to sub judice rule. Parliament unanimously voted to remove president Banda’s immunity in order to commence criminal proceedings after which he was cleared of the charges and declared a free man.