The Minority in Parliament has described as disappointing the ruling by the Supreme Court that a Deputy Speaker of Parliament can be counted to form a quorum for parliamentary decision and voting of the House.
According to the Minority, the decision by the court amounted to judicial interference in time tested parliamentary practice and established conventions.
Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu speaking at a press conference organised by the Minority, in Parliament House, in Accra, described the decision of the Court as a “travesty of parliamentary justice and a stab in the growth and development of multi-party democracy built on the principle of checks and balances.”
Supreme Court rules that Deputy Speaker can vote while presiding
Justice Jones Dotse on Wednesday presided over a five-member Supreme Court panel to affirm that the action taken by the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu to support the approval of the 2022 budget without NDC MPs’ participation was constitutional.
Mr Iddrisu also explained that it is not for nothing that Article 102 of the Constitution provides that a person presiding shall not have original vote nor casting vote, adding that the decision by the court is repugnant to the provisions in Article 102 and 104.
He said the court ruling aptly captures the judicial support for the Electronic Transaction Levy (E-levy), for a struggling economy in distress.
“The Judiciary of Ghana is also failing Ghana’s parliamentary democracy in their inability to appreciate the true meaning of Article 110 of the 1992 Constitution that Parliament shall, by Standing Orders, regulate its own proceedings,” he said.
Mr Iddrisu also expressed concern that the court only made reference to the constitutional provision leaving out the room created by Standing Order 13 in concluding the case.
“Can you imagine what will happen in Parliament…where he (First Deputy Speaker) is presiding, and the Second Deputy Speaker for some purposes is not immediately available in the Chamber, he will walk down, vote, and at that time there will not be persons presiding over the Parliament of Ghana?”
It would be recalled that a private legal practitioner, Mr Justice Abdulai filed a case against at the Attorney General at the Supreme Court that the approval of the 2022 Budget without NDC MPs’ participation was illegal.
He asked the Court to interpret Articles 102 and 104 of the 1992 Constitution and to declare the whole proceedings in Parliament on November 30, 2021, which led to the passage of the 2022 Budget as unconstitutional, insisting that the Deputy Speaker should not have counted himself as an MP when he presided over proceedings.
However, in defence on behalf of the state, Attorney-General (A-G) Godfred Yeboah Dame, argued that there is no express provision in the 1992 Constitution that stops a Deputy Speaker presiding over proceedings from voting or counting himself as part of MPs present to form the right quorum.