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Full Text: SC explains why deputy speakers can vote while presiding in parliament

Source The Ghana Report

On March 9, the Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, ruled that a Deputy Speaker can vote when acting in the capacity of a Speaker in Parliament.

This verdict has ignited the flame and drawn leaders across all sectors to take a stance and state their position.

First to express their disappointment was the Minority in Parliament. They described the judgment as judicial support for the controversial E-Levy.

Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu accused the judiciary of interfering in the legislature’s work, which is another independent arm of government.

President Nana Akufo-Addo, on the other hand, appeared pleased with the ruling and said the apex court’s judgement could not amount to judicial inference in the work of Parliament.

According to President Akufo-Addo, the suggestion that Parliament is beyond the scrutiny of the Supreme Court is to suggest that Parliament is a law onto itself.

“I’m not sure people who are saying this have actually taken the time to read the Constitution of our country. 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. There is no body in the Ghanaian State that is above the fundamental law of the land,” the president said in an interview with Daily Guide Newspaper.

But Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin has described the president’s comment as myopic and unfortunate.

With regards to the apex court’s judgment, the former Nadowli West MP said the decision is absurd and a reckless incursion into the remit of Parliament.

Barely 48 hours after the apex court gave its judgement on such a landmark and controversial issue, it has tabled its reasons in a 29-page document authored by Justice Yonny Kulendi.

Ultimately, the court held that the 1992 Constitution does not place any restriction on a Deputy Speaker from being part of the quorum for decision making, and to vote on matters for determination.

It was the court’s considered view that deputy speakers were Members of Parliament (MPs) elected as representatives of constituencies, and therefore causing them to lose their casting vote would amount to disenfranchising their constituents in Parliament.

“To cause a member to forfeit their vote in Parliament merely on account of having to preside over the business of the House in the Speaker’s absence would unfairly disenfranchise not only the presiding member but also their constituents. Such an interpretation would likely give rise to certain perverse outcomes.

“For example, it could lead to opportunistic absences by a Speaker or one of the other Deputy Speakers, as an absence would mean a vote loss by the presiding member and their party,” the court held.

On the issue of quorum, the apex court said that the Constitution distinguishes between a quorum for business of Parliament, which is Article 102, and the quorum for decision-making, which is Article 104.

It held that whereas Article 102 prevented any person presiding, either Speaker or Deputy Speaker, from being part of the quorum for business of the House, Article 104(1) prevented only the person elected as Speaker and not the Deputies from forming part of that quorum.

“As to the non-voting quorum, Article 102 makes it clear that a presiding Deputy Speaker, who is a Member of Parliament and present, shall not be counted in determining the number,” it explained.

Read below the full judgement below:

Download (PDF, 1.04MB)

 

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