Two Ghanaians have filed a suit at the Supreme Court, seeking interpretation of Article 117 of the 1992 Constitution.

The suit is against the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.

The two are; Hilda Mansuwa Kpentey Dongotey and Albert Gyamfi, both Lawyers.

Among others, they want the apex court to declare that the Speaker, MPs, and the Clerk to Parliament “is not granted immunity from arrest for any offense he commits while he is on his way to, attending at or returning from, any proceedings of Parliament”

The plaintiffs also want the court to declare that the Speaker, MPs, and the Clerk to Parliament “is not granted immunity from warrantless arrest, restriction or detention while he is on his way to, attending at or returning from, proceedings of parliament”

Supreme Court petitioned to clarify immunity and privileges of MPs
Supreme Court petitioned to clarify immunity and privileges of MPs

Article 117, provides for immunity from service of process and arrest, and says, “civil or criminal process coming from any court or place out of Parliament shall not be served on, or executed in relation to, the Speaker or a member, or the Clerk to Parliament while he is on his way to, attending or returning from, any proceedings of Parliament.”

The application by the two comes after Madina MP, Francis-Xavier Sosu, refused to honour an invitation from the police to assist in an investigation into some unlawful acts that occurred when he led his constituents in a protest last month.

The MP also resisted arrest by the Police on grounds that he is immune from arrest as he was on his way to parliament immediately after the October 25 protest.

Subsequently, the Police secured criminal summons against the MP after all attempts to arrest him for his alleged breach of the law were unsuccessful.

The Speaker, who has not hidden his dissatisfaction about the actions of the Police, has hinted that efforts are being made to introduce legislation to strengthen the House’s contempt powers.

According to the Speaker, the actions by the Police against the Madina MP are in contempt of Parliament but there were no clear sanctions to mete out against them.

Alban Bagbin, addressing participants at a breakfast meeting in Kumasi last week, said that the new legislation will give meaning to the constitutional provision of Contempt of Parliament which will spell out detailed sanctions for those found culpable.

Several legal scholars have made calls for the interpretation of Article 117 of the Constitution.

A law lecturer at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Maame Ekua Addadzi-Koom, has said that there must be clarification on the provision, especially when it comes to the timeline of the phrases “on his way to”, “attending to” or “returning from” in the Article, in order to leave no room for ambiguity.

Explaining her point on The Law on JoyNews earlier this month, Miss Addadzi-Koom said that “in Australia, for instance, if you arrest an MP five days on his way to Parliament or five days on returning from Parliament, which will be working days, you cannot arrest or serve any process on him. But, then we don’t have that in Ghana.”



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