Former President John Mahama has launched fresh attacks on the Supreme Court Justices, describing the ruling as “dangerous precedent of judicial interference in Parliamentary procedure for the future”.
According to him, the ruling of the Supreme Court allowing Deputy Speakers the right to vote and be counted when presiding in Parliament as “shoc king, and not a surprise to him.
He posted on his Facebook that “A unanimous 7-0? Shocking but not surprising” adding that “An unfortunate interpretation for convenience that sets a dangerous precedent of judicial interference in Parliamentary procedure for the future.”
A seven-member Supreme Court panel, presided over by Justice Jones Victor Mawulorm Dotse, has by unanimous decision declared that the two Deputy Speakers of Parliament remain Members of Parliament when they are presiding and that they can vote and be counted as present for purposes of decision-making in the House.
The Supreme Court ruled that Order 109 (3) of the Standing Orders of Parliament, which state that “a Deputy Speaker or any other member presiding shall not retain his original vote while presiding”, is unconstitutional and same is struck out as unconstitutional.
Apart from the presiding judge, Justice Jones Dotse, the other members of the panel were Justices Nene Amegatcher, Professor Nii Ashie Kotey, Mariama Owusu, Avril Lovelace Johnson, Clemence Honyenuga and Yonni Kulendi.
Travesty Of Justice
The Minority Leader in Parliament, Haruna Iddrisu described the Supreme Court’s declaration as a travesty of justice relating to parliamentary practice.
“Our attention has been drawn to a very disappointing ruling of the Supreme Court of Ghana which more or less amounts to a judicial interference in time-tested parliamentary practice and established conventions,” Mr Iddrisu told journalists in Parliament on Wednesday.
“Everywhere in the world in civilised democracies, including the United Kingdom, the presiding officer’s vote is discounted, so it is not for nothing that Article 102 provides that a person presiding shall have no original nor casting vote.
“The Supreme Court to put it aptly, this ruling is judicial support for E-Levy, for a struggling economy in distress, and judicial support for the restoration of a matter they have said is constitutional, it is repugnant but what can we do. This is a travesty of parliamentary justice,” he declared.
Joe Wise Vindicated
First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu, says he has been vindicated by the ruling of the Supreme Court on whether presiding Deputy Speakers have voting rights and can form a quorum.
The MP for Bekwai said the ability of presiding Deputy Speakers to form a quorum has always been a legal provision, but had never been activated in previous parliaments because of the clear difference in the past between the the two main political parties.
Engaging the press in Parliament after the ruling, Osei-Owusu said: “I’m glad that the decision practically affirms the position I took. There’s still some misrepresentation as to whether I participated in the vote itself on the night of 30 January; that, I must emphasise, anybody who is in doubt can go back and look at the clip.
“It was a voice vote and I did not participate in the voice vote. But I insisted that I should be counted as a Member of Parliament present to constitute the quorum before the decision was taken.
“Indeed, this decision [the Supreme Court ruling of 9 March affirms that position that I took. I find that very refreshing.
“Matters that have never arisen are now in the fore because of the numbers we have in the chambers, so any time there’s disagreement, as I’ve said already, I’ll interpret the rule and the law as I understand it.
“I encourage people who disagree with me to boldly state their position and, if need be, refer it to the appropriate body [such as] the Supreme Court to guide us.”