Deputy Speaker’s right to vote: SC tosses review application …declines to overturn verdict

A nine-member panel of the Supreme Court (SC), yesterday dismissed a review motion seeking to overturn an earlier decision of the court that a Deputy Speaker does not lose his vote when presiding in the absence of the Speaker of Parliament.

The panel unanimously stated that the application filed by Justice Abdulai, a law lecturer, at the University of Professional Studies, was unmeritorious.

Justice Abdulai

This comes almost two months after a seven-member panel of the apex court held that a Deputy Speaker presiding is entitled to a vote.

Diana Asonaba Dapaah, a Deputy Attorney-General, had told the court that Mr Abdulai failed to demonstrate a miscarriage of justice arising from the decision of the SC on March 9, 2022.

The lecturer had described the decision of the SC that the Deputy Speaker of Parliament could count himself for purposes of a quorum and is entitled to an original vote as a miscarriage of justice. 

On March 9, a seven-member panel presided over by Justice Jones Dotse, held that a Deputy Speaker presiding in the absence of the Speaker does not lose his original vote.

The court reached this decision after a suit was brought before it by MrAbdulai, who argued that it was unconstitutional for Mr Joseph Osei Owusu, the New Patriotic Party Member of Parliament for Bekwai Constituency, to count himself for the purposes of quorum on November 30, 2021, while presiding as the Speaker.

The Attorney General in his response contends that the Deputy Speaker does not lose his right to vote while presiding.

The court, in its judgement, disagreed with the views of the plaintiff, and made consequential orders.

Itwas to the effect that Order 109(3) of the Standing Orders of Parliament was inconsistent with the 1992 Constitution; that the decision of Parliament approving the Government of Ghana budget and economic policy for 2022, taken on November 30, 2021, with the Deputy Speaker as part of the quorum of Parliament, was valid.

The SC stated that Ghana’s position on the right of the presiding officer of Parliament to vote on a matter was in consonance with the law or practice in the Commonwealth and Anglo-American Jurisdictions as the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, Kenya and South Africa.

In his motion on notice for review of the judgement of the SC filed on April 8, 2022, the plaintiff said Article 34 of the 1992 Constitution states in the Directive 
Principles that in applying, enforcing, implementing and or interpreting the 
constitution, citizens, Parliament, the President, the Judiciary, the Council of State, the Cabinet, political parties and other bodies and persons are to be guided by the values and principles of the constitution. 

It was the case of MrAbdulaithat as part of the overriding constitutional principles and values of the 1992 Constitution,fairness, equity, justice, the rule of law among other internationally recognised constitutional values was important consideration for the growth and development are imperative to achieve a just society. 

“To this end, I believe and submit that any interpretation and or enforcement of the Constitution that does not attain these values and principles will not inure to the benefit of the Ghanaian society and their Constitutional democracy. Thus any interpretation and enforcement should, in my mind, achieve these overriding principles and values,” he said.

 MrAbdulaiindicated that giving the obscure nature of a presiding Deputy Speaker’s vote and participation in the quorum of Parliament within the 1992 Constitution, the 1992 Constitution as a whole, the legislative antecedents of its Articles 102, 104 (1) and (2), 295(2)(a) as borne out in the 1957, 1960, 1969, and1979 Constitutions, as well as other enactments in (parimateria) as Act 300 and NLCD 406, should have all been considered by the Ordinary Bench in searching for the true intention of the framers of the 1992 Constitution.

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