Deputy Speaker has right to vote – SC declares

The Supreme Court (SC) has stated that a Deputy Speaker of Parliament can be counted to form a quorum and have a right to vote whiles presiding over proceedings in the House in the absence of the Speaker.

The court, speaking through Justice Jones Dotse, stated that a deputy speaker of parliament or any member of parliament presiding was entitled to be counted for the purpose of forming a quorum. 

The seven-member panel in a unanimous landmark decision declared that upon a proper and true interpretation of article 102 and 104(1) a deputy speaker or any member can vote or take part in Parliamentary decision-making. 

It is the considered opinion of the court that deputy speakers who preside in the absence of the Speaker of Parliament do not lose his/her vote. 

Consequently, the SC struck out section 109 Rule 3 as unconstitutional as it is in contravention of Articles 102 and 104(1) of the constitution. 

By this decision, the court said that the approval of the 2022 budget statement presented by Mr Ken Ofori Atta, the Finance Minister, and approved by 138 Members of Parliament, including the presiding deputy speaker, was valid.

The court said that full reasons for the ruling would be filed at the registry of the court by close of work on Friday.

Other members of the panel were Justices Nene Amegatcher, Prof. Ashie Kotey, Mariama Owusu, Lovelace Johnson, Clemence Honyenuga and Emmanuel Kulendi.

Lawyer Justice Abdulai
Lawyer Justice Abdulai

The plaintiff, Justice Abdulai, a lecturer of law at the University of Professional Studies, sued the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice (A-G), saying that it was unconstitutional for the Deputy Speaker to have counted himself for the purpose of making up the quorum of half of the Members of Parliament (MPs) required when Parliament approved the 2022 Budget and Economic Policy of Government, on November 30, 2021.


He said that to the extent that the Deputy Speaker could not be counted, the decision taken on November 30, 2021, to approve the budget was a nullity.

Mr Abdulai claimed from the SC, among others, a declaration that, upon a true and proper interpretation of articles 102 and 104(1) of the 1992 Constitution, a Speaker or any other person presiding over Parliament could not be said to be part of the members present for the purposes of decision making.

The plaintiff asked the court to declare that upon a true and proper interpretation of articles 102 and 104(1), the First and Second Deputy Speakers when presiding over Parliament has the same authority as the Speaker of Parliament and can therefore not be counted as Members of Parliament present for the purposes of taking a decision in accordance with article 104(1) of the Constitution, 1992.

In his submission, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, said a deputy Speaker or any member presiding over proceedings in the House in the absence of the Speaker, was entitled to cast a vote, in accordance with article 104(1) of the 1992 Constitution.


He said a deputy Speaker of Parliament or any member presiding over proceedings in the House in the absence of the Speaker is entitled to be counted for the purpose of making up the quorum of half of the Members of Parliament (MPs).

BY MALIK SULLEMANA



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