A pyrrhic victory of style over substance is the observation of Professor Stephen Kwaku Asare on the ruling of the SC on the voting right of the first deputy speaker of Ghana’s parliament.
After reading and listening around, I ask these questions!
1. Is representation in parliament limited to just voting?? How about Chairmen of Parliamentary Committees who do not have original votes but casting votes only in events of equality of votes as provided in Order 211 of our parliamentary standing orders?? Is the SC declaring this provision too unconstitutional??
How about Article 104(5) which provides that members of parliament who are parties to firms which is a party to a contract with the Government shall declare their interests and shall not vote on any question relating to them in parliament?? Is this provision too unconstitutional since the voting right of these categories of MPs are also prohibited by that??
2. How does this ruling uphold the tenets of the cardinal principles of separation of powers?? Doesn’t this ruling amount to an unholy invasion of parliament by the judiciary?? Is the judiciary not directing and remote controlling how parliamentary proceedings should be conducted?? What happens to Article 110 of the Constitution 1992 which provides that Parliament may by standing orders regulate its own procedure??
I can’t wait for an official reaction from the speaker of parliament who is the head of the legislative arm of government. If the parliament will sit and allow a daylight usurpation of their powers as an equal authoritative arm of government by another arm of government, then fine, so be it?? I think, however, that, this unbridled invasion of an arm of government into the operations of another arm of government is fundamentally wrong, democratically unethical; it is unconstitutional and must be resisted forcefully by the latter. This is a judicial coup d’état on the legislature.
3. Will deputy speakers of our parliament still enjoy the respect and privileges they hitherto enjoyed under this constitution prior to this ruling?? Will they not be treated as typical partisans like other ordinary members of parliament when they preside?? Will they not struggle to preside over government businesses in the absence of the speaker??
I am surprised this is a unanimous decision by the apex court of our land. What mischief and (or) purpose at all does this ruling seek to remedy?? Well, let the implementation start and let’s see how our legislative arm of government will look like.
4. What happens to the principle of non-justiciable political question doctrine which is firmly revered within Ghanaian jurisprudence as was held in the case of Tuffour v. AG and GBA v AG which prohibits the court from entertaining matters that explicitly textually demonstrate commitment to a coordinate political department i.e the legislature or the executive??
In Tuffour v AG, the Court reasoned that the courts do not and cannot inquire into how parliament went about its business. It further added that actions within parliament are a close book. I understand the SC is equally a master of their own rules and can overturn their previous decisions as and when necessary; this however cannot be done in obvious arbitrariness as this appears to be.
5. Yes, the SC may be fully sheltered in their exercise of exclusive interpretation powers as provided for in Article 2(1) and 130(1) of the Constitution 1992, the exercise of same, however, regarding admissibility of political issues must be in tandem with the wisdom as provided for in Article 296 of this same Constitution. This ruling in my opinion is an own goal for Ghana in our strife to stabilise the seeming/real political turbulence in the country.
6. I hear the AG is advocating for a re-run of the election in Buem Constituency to include/involve the people of SALL.
7. It is obvious this comedy won’t stop anytime soon. The SC of Ghana is sinking so fast…
Peter Suaka is a lecturer at UEW Distance Education Center, Sunyani. He can be contacted on 0200922728 or via email at email@example.com
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