After several hours of expressing shock at Wednesday’s ruling by the Supreme Court on the right of Deputy Speakers of Parliament to vote while still presiding over proceedings, former President John Dramani Mahama says the situation will plunge the country into an “absurdity”.
He said the Deputy Speakers may as well be part of debates while presiding, a situation that is currently barred by the Standing Orders.
Mr Mahama had described the judgement as “an unfortunate interpretation for convenience” and feared the Supreme Court judges had set a “dangerous precedent of judicial interference” in parliamentary work.
But after several politicians including his successor, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, expressed their opinions about the ruling, Mr Mahama has come back a second time on the issue.
Before then, President Akufo-Addo had lent credence to the judgement and said persons in dissent to it may not have read the 1992 Constitution well.
“I’m not sure people who are saying this have actually taken the time to read the constitution of our country,” he told Daily Guide’s Charles Takyi Boadu on the sidelines of the Dubai Expo 2020.
“It says so in Black and white. The legislative powers of the State, which is vested in Parliament, is subject to the provisions of the constitution. All organs of the Ghanaian State, including me as the Head of the Executive, we are all subject to the teachings of the Constitution.”
The Supreme Court, presided over by Justice Jones Dotse, dismissed a suit brought before it by law lecturer Justice Abdulai, who sought interpretation on articles 104 and 109 of the Constitution after a strange move by First Deputy Speaker of Parliament Joseph Osei Owusu in December last year to vote as Member for Bekwai while sitting in the chair of the Speaker of Parliament.
By a 7-0 unanimous decision, the Court said Mr Osei-Owusu exercised his right constitutionally.
It also struck out Standing Order 109(3), which says a Deputy Speaker or any other member presiding shall not retain his original vote while presiding.
It furthered that the Deputy Speaker can be counted during the quorum for decision making according to Article 104(1).
Later commenting on the judgement on Wednesday, March 9, the former Independent MP said clarity has been brought to bear by the apex court of the nation on his action.
“Whatever misunderstanding that people have I think the Supreme Court has cleared it.”
By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh|3news.com|Ghana