A seven-member Supreme Court panel on Tuesday slammed #FixTheCountry Convener Oliver Barker-Vormawor for his role in a case filed by the group and two other pressure groups.
Mr Barker-Vormawor appeared as lawyer for Benjamin Darko of #FixTheCountry, Democracy Hub LBG and Democratic Accountability Lab.
The case filed by the three had asked the Supreme Court to punish the Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority for going ahead with the implementation of the E-Levy policy despite an impending interlocutory application that was filed by three members of Parliament.
They argued that the Courts have clarified that the fact that an application for an injunction is yet to be heard does not release any person from the duty to refrain or abstain from taking any step that renders that prevents the court from discharging its judicial function and brings the authority and administration of the law into disrespect.
When the case was called on Tuesday, the panel presided over Justice Nene Amegatcher did not take kindly to the processes filed by Mr. Barker-Vormawor.
The panel first questioned why he had failed to name the specific official he wanted to be the subject of the contempt action and why that official had not been served.
The Court drew the lawyer’s attention to the High Court rules and asked that he reads them.
Mr. Barker-Vormawor, however, replied that he did not readily have the rules with him.
This did not sit well with Justice Amegatcher who questioned why the youth activist had come to court without his tools.
“You are coming to the Supreme Court to do a case and you don’t have your tools of court here?” Justice Amegatcher asked.
The Court then questioned the title of the case that had been filed. The panel pointed out that contrary to the established procedure of filing such cases titled “Republic v (party against whom the contempt is being sought against)”, Mr. Barker-Vormawor had not done this.
The Court then questioned the legal basis of the action against the Commissioner of the GRA. The panel described the applicants as bystanders.
It noted that the individual who filed the injunction application against the GRA had just left the Court premises after their case had been heard. It questioned what gave the group the authority to file such an action.
The panel demanded that a specific legal authority is quoted. Even before Mr. Barker-Vormawor could complete a sentence, panel members stepped in with various comments.
“You just rush to the court,” Justice Prof Kotey said.
Justice Amegatcher also took over. “You just don’t get up and come to the Supreme Court.”
Barker-Vormawor stepped in to point out that in matters that concerned the integrity of the law, a person can step in to seek the intervention of the Court.
“So any matter a third party can jump in? You want us to punish a high-ranking official and you are saying anyone can just show up. Like just walking along the roadside and decide to take such an action?” Justice Prof. Henrietta Mensah Bonsu quizzed.
The youth activist replied that this was a novel situation. But Justice Prof Ashie Kotey would have none of that.
“There is nothing novel about this. The people (those who filed injunction) have just left and gone and you say you have what?” He stated.
He advised the youth activist to take a cue from the bench and withdraw the case.
“Respectfully, I disagree with the bench,” Mr. Barker-Vormawor said.
Justice Kotey shot back; “This is just a waste of the Court’s time. If you will not take a cue, we will rule and we will see.”
Another panel member, Justice Emmanuel Kulendi then stepped in.
“We are looking for law, not your opinion or speeches. You have no authority, you eat humble pie and withdraw,” he said.
The Court then proceeded to deliver its ruling without even hearing from the Attorney-General’s office or lawyers for the GRA.
“The applicant has no locus and is not clothed by law to file the instant application. The Application is in itself defective, it does not measure up to the standard. The application in itself is defective, It does not measure up to the standard. It’s frivolous and vexatious. We award a cost of GHC10,000 to be paid personally by counsel,” Justice Amegatcher ruled.
The case was heard by Justices Nene Amegatcher, Prof Ashie Kotey, Mariama Owusu, Lovelace Johnson, Gertrude Torkonoo, Prof Henrietta Mensah Bonsu and Emmanuel Kulendi.
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