John Mahama says the decision of the apex court on Wednesday does not come as a surprise to him, adding it sets a dangerous precedent of judicial interference in Parliamentary procedure.
Former president John Mahama has described Wednesday’s ruling of the Supreme Court giving Deputy Speakers the right to vote and be counted when presiding in Parliament as “shocking.”
However, he said the decision does not come as a surprise to him.
“A unanimous 7-0? Shocking but not surprising,” Mahama posted on Facebook on Thursday (10 March).
He added: “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, has 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,” Iddrisu told journalists in Parliament on Wednesday (9 March).
“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.