Asare knocks holes into ways Supreme Court handled Ayine’s contempt case

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US-based Ghanaian Professor Kwaku Asare who is also a private legal practitioner has raised issues with the way and manner Ghana’s Supreme Court handled the contempt case involving a former Deputy Attorney General Dr Dominic Ayine.

The apex supreme court on Thursday February 25 discharged Dr Ayine in the contempt case against him.

The Bolgatanga East lawmaker apologized to the court over his contemptuous comments against the justices of the high court regarding the ongoing election petition hearing.

The court Monday February 22, 2021 ordered the Bolgatanga East lawmaker to go and retract comments he had publicly made which the court deems contemptuous.

He had earlier said in a media interview that the decision of the Supreme Court not to allow the petitioner reopen his case to subpoena chairperson of the 1st Respondent Electoral Commission, Jean Mensa, was “predetermined”.

This, the court deemed scandalous and brought contempt charges against Dr. Ayine, a case which was heard Monday. During the hearing, a remorseful looking Dr. Ayine said he had written a letter to the court apologizing for his comments.

Counsel for the contemnor Dr. Ayine also pleaded on behalf of his client asking the mercy of the court.

The court, in accepting the apology of the contemnor acknowledged the fact he is a senior member of the bar but made the following consequential orders.

“We accept the apology of learned counsel for the contemnor, we however order that the contemnor purges his contempt by retracting his scandalous on the very same medium before Thursday, 25th February, 2021, when the court will reconvene. The contempt proceedings is thus adjourned to   Thursday, 25th February, 2021″, the ruled.

Sharing his perspectives on this development, Professor Asare wrote on his Facebook page that “Trust me, I get it. I know I’m not supposed to ask questions. The contemnor himself has apologized and the Court has purged him of his contempt. So the matter must be allowed to die!!Well, well, well.  I demur.

“I think the Apology Jurisprudence is anti-intellectual and not helping the citizens to know what they can say and cannot say about the Supreme Court, Supreme Court Justices and proceedings before the Court.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the contemnor in this case is an MP who is also a Spokesperson of a Party appearing before that Court. He is also a lawyer and a former Deputy Attorney-General.

“He said: ‘I am surprised that the Supreme Court itself, having set down five key issues to be determined is now reducing the issues to one; which is whether and the extent to which the evidence that we have led shows that no one got more than 50 percent of the votes in accordance with article 63 of the constitution, but we have made it abundantly clear in the petition that there were a number of infractions; we’re contesting even the constitutionality of the declaration that was made. We are saying that she violated article 23 of the constitution . . . these are germane issues under the constitution of Ghana and to reduce the petition into a single issue petition is rather unfortunate and smacks of a predetermined agenda to rule against the petitioner in this matter.’

“What exactly is contemptuous and why?  What exactly is the contemnor purging himself of? The Court says it’s scandalized by the above statement? What does it mean? Do the Justices feel disrespected?

“Do they feel the remark interfered with their ability to do their work? What exactly is the evil that the Court has found with the statement?

“Can a Spokesperson of a Party not say that the Court’s ruling smacks of a predetermined agenda to rule against his party? Why not? Did the remark disrupt the Court’s proceedings?

Will the remark be acceptable if uttered by a non-lawyer, a lawyer who is not a spokesman of the party, an MP who is not involved in the proceedings, etc.? Are the Justices suggesting that such out of Court remarks can prejudice their judgments? Where does the Bar stand on contempt versus free speech?

“What is the legal academy saying about contempt? What should law students be taught about contempt? I find such charges and apologies to be unsatisfactory and unhelpful to my understanding of the proper contours of contempt.

“It is time for the Court to state the legal basis of its contempt charges. The Academy and the Bar must insist on it — not go along to get along.”

By Laud Nartey||Ghana

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