A purported rejection of the 2022 budget after a ruling by the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has been roundly condemned by legal luminaries and experts in parliamentary procedure.
The Speaker of Parliament, despite the absence of the Majority, decided to call for a vote on the 2022 budget.
The Majority side had staged a walkout, after it refused to countenance what it later said was open bias by the Speaker.
The absence of the entire Majority side meant the Minority side alone could not meet the legal threshold of 138 members to vote, but the Speaker ignored Article 104 and called for a vote.
It is this decision by the Speaker that has attracted wide condemnation by legal luminaries, who have stated unequivocally that any vote by members less than 138 is illegal and null and void.
The respected lawyer has shared his opinion on his Facebook page, and he minced no words in pointing out what the law says.
Below is what Ace Ankomah posted:
“Parliament’s quorum is just 1/3 of members . But to take a decision, Parliament needs more than 1/2 of members, which now is 138. So the issue is, at which point the matter was put to the vote. At that point, there should be at least 108 members in the house. If there wasn’t, the decision is invalid. If there was, the decision is valid.
Life is very simple. Don’t allow politicians to make it complicated.”
DR. POKU ADUSEI
Another revered lawyer, Dr. Poku Adusei, was also emphatic in his views, which faulted the Speaker’s actions.
“The argument that after presenting your case on a matter in Parliament it was too late for the majority to walk out since the speaker was seized with jurisdiction to put it to vote is flawed. Parliament is not like the courts; the Speaker is equally not like a Judge. Whereas in Court, the Judge could deliver a decision if you walk out after submissions, the same cannot be said of the Speaker. The reason is simple: the power to decide matters in court lies with the Judge. But in Parliament, the power to decide matters lies with the members themselves. As such, if at the time of taking a vote, the total members present was not at least half of the membership of the House, that exercise is void; It is unconstitutional and thus of no effect.”
Dr. Poku Adusei added: “The ‘decision’ of Parliament yesterday over the Budget Statement, even though is brutum fulmen, gives a cause of action in constitutional law, and same must be vindicated to forestall its recurrence.”
MAJORITY SLAMS SPEAKER
The Majority side wasted no time in rejecting the Speaker’s move, which it describes as illegal.
“We want to put it on record that the Speaker was totally wrong in what business he purportedly undertook in the House in our absence,” the Majority Leader said.
“Now, what exercise he led for our colleagues on the other side to take a decision on related to a request from the Minister to be allowed space to engage both sides of the House in order to have some consensus and the position that the two sides of the House had adopted.”
Meanwhile, a number of social media users have also slammed the Speaker of Parliament for going ahead to hurriedly call for a vote, knowing very well his action had no legal basis.
Some wondered how a man of such parliamentary experience, having served in the house from 1992 until his election as Speaker this year, could commit such an error.
Some slammed him for being overly partisan and pushing his NDC party agenda against the government.