The Supreme Court will, on March 9, rule whether a Deputy Speaker can be counted for a quorum and vote on a matter when presiding the House in the absence of the Speaker.
The apex court’s decision is to bring finality to the contention between the Minority and Majority over the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu’s decision to count himself as an MP for the Majority to get the 138 members it needed as a quorum to approve the 2022 Budget statement on November 30, 2021.
Before this, Speaker Alban Bagbin and the Minority had rejected the budget statement in the absence of the Majority. This implies that the First Deputy Speaker overruled a ruling by the Speaker.
In justifying why Parliament’s approval of the 2022 budget cannot be described as unconstitutional, Joesph Osei-Owusu said he does not lose his right as a legislator when presiding in the House in the absence of the unavailable Speaker.
“A few matters I’d want to clarify. First, it must be clear that a Deputy Speaker is not a Speaker. Mr Speaker is not a Member of Parliament. I am a Member of Parliament. The Second Deputy Speaker is an MP, and our role is to assist the Speaker in managing this House.
“But when Mr Speaker is not available, either of us could preside on the House, so can any other member if necessary. Any other member can be elected by the House to preside. That member does not lose his right to be a member of the House. That is what our Standing Order says,” he stated.
He stressed that his actions did not contravene the Standing Orders as suggested by Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu.
The First Deputy Speaker noted that no breach occurred since he did not vote.
“When it comes to the question of voting, it is very clear anytime any of the Deputy speakers or any other member elected to preside is in the chair, that member does not vote. That has never been in dispute. I did not vote while presiding.”
Despite the explanation, the Minority insisted the Deputy Speaker breached the standing orders. Mr Haurna Iddirsu based his assertions on Article 104 (3) of the Constitution and standing order 109 of Parliament.
Since the budget was approved in the absence of the Minority, Mr Iddrisu then moved a motion to reverse the approval of the 2022 budget that occurred in the absence of the Minority.
The motion was, however, overruled by the First Deputy Speaker. This led to chaos in the chamber as both sides of the House faced off.
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