Describing SC ruling on Deputy Speakers as E-levy ruling unfortunate – Majority Leader to Haruna

Majority Leader (Left) Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu and Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu

The Majority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has criticized the Minority for describing the Supreme Court ruling on Deputy Speakers, as E-levy ruling.

He said this description is most unfortunate.

The apex court on Wednesday March 9 dismissed an application to pronounce as unconstitutional, Joseph Osei Wusu’s action of counting himself for the purposes of quorum.

Justice Jones Dotse ruled that the Deputy Speaker of Parliament participation in voting was constitutional.

Private legal practitioner and law lecturer, Justice Abdulai subsequent to the November 30, 2021 clash between Speaker Bagbin and his First Deputy after the latter overturned an earlier vote of the House rejecting Government’s 2022 Budget invited the Supreme Court to pronounce as unconstitutional, Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu’s action of counting himself for the purposes of quorum.

He argued in the context of articles 102 and 104 of the 1992 Constitution that the Deputy Speaker was not permitted to count himself for the purposes of quorum, since he had neither an original nor a casting vote as Speaker presiding.

But the 7-member panel of justices ruled that the Member of Parliament for Bekwai exercised his right constitutionally.

The SC struck out the 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)

Justice Jones Dotse noted that the full ruling will be made available on Friday, March 11.

Addressing a press conference in Parliament to react to the ruling, the Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu said “Our attention has been drawn to a very disappointing ruling of the Supreme Court of Ghana which more or less will amount to a judicial interference in time tested Parliamentary practice and establishment convention.

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“Everywhere in the world in civilized democracies including the United Kingdom the presiding officer’s vote is discounted. So it is not for nothing that article 102 provides that a person presiding shall have no original nor casting vote. The Supreme Court, to put it aptly, this ruling is judicial support for E-levy.”

But also addressing a press conference in Parliament on Thursday March 10, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu who is also Member of Parliament for Suame said ” It is most unfortunate for anybody to say that the the Supreme Court ruling is E-levy tailored.

“The matter was sent to the Supreme Court before the E-levy became an issue. If you will remember, it was in July, in the vote for the approval or non approval of the budget when the NDC said that they had used 137 number to reject the budget on the Friday and we came on Tuesday November, to say no, what they did was unconstitutional because they required at least one half.

“137, less than one half of the 275 membership. We came back and did what was right using 138 number to approve the budget and economic policy of the government. That was what triggered this whole business of going to court to seek interpretation. On that day it was the 1st Deputy Speaker who presided and he signaled that he was entitled to vote even though when it came to the voting he abstained. So that is it, it had nothing to do with the E-levy.”

By Laud Nartey||Ghana

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