Justice William Atuguba (standing right), former Justice of the Supreme Court, delivering the lecture. Picture: ERNEST KODZI
Justice William Atuguba (standing right), former Justice of the Supreme Court, delivering the lecture. Picture: ERNEST KODZI

Supreme Court erred in Gyakye Quayson disqualification — Justice Atuguba

A former Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice William Atuguba, has criticised the court for nullifying the 2020 election of James Gyakye Quayson as Member of Parliament for the Assin-North Constituency in the Central Region.

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He said the Supreme Court did not only err in law with the decision to nullify the election, but also failed to uphold justice, describing the judgment of the court as “scandalous.”

Mr Atuguba said the apex court delved into a matter which had already been adjudicated on and settled by the High Court, in violation to a cardinal principle of law that matters already settled ought not be disturbed.

He said the ideal thing was for the decision of the High Court nullifying the election of Mr Quayson to have been executed, instead of an entirely new case based on the same merit being litigated in the Supreme Court.

“The James Gyakye Quayson’s decision by the Supreme Court is with all due respect scandalous, in that the court in the teeth of the settled maxim Res Judicata et non quieta movere, re adjudicated the same matter that had been adjudicated upon by the High Court on the merits.

All that was left was its execution according to court processes,” Mr Atuguba added.

Lecture

Justice Atuguba was speaking at a lecture organised by a civil society organisation, Solidare Ghana, and the Department of Political Science of the University of Ghana.

It was on the topic: “Protecting Ghana’s democracy: The role of the judiciary.”

Justice Atuguba used the almost three-hour lecture to highlight some major cases in the country in which the judiciary had clashed with the political class, including his personal experiences, as well as some actions which in his view had dented the independence of the judiciary.

 Post-parliamentary election

The former Supreme Court judge further criticised the apex court for entertaining the Gyakye Quayson case, which in his opinion was clearly within the purview of the High Court.

He said Article 99 of the 1992 Constitution had preserved post parliamentary election matters to the High Court with the Court of Appeal as the final appellate court and, therefore, the Supreme Court had no legal basis to entertain the action.

Mr Atuguba said the decision by the Supreme Court in the case meant that the apex court had a concurrent jurisdiction over parliamentary election petition with the High Court, which he said was alien to the constitution.

Justice Atuguba, who served on the Supreme Court for 23 years (1995- 2018), also said that the court “shot itself in the foot” when it held that Mr Quayson failed to renounce his Canadian citizenship before filing his documents with the Electoral Commission.

“If the certificate of renunciation is so mandatory and conclusive why was it not conclusive in its effect to qualify Gyakye Quayson when he received it, dated 26th November 2020, whereas the parliamentary election was held on 7th December 2020?

“The Supreme Court does not stand in good light with all due respect in disqualifying Gyakye Quayson despite his clear certificate of renunciation as from 26th November 2020, whereas the elections were on December 7.

 I am not able to see substantial justice,” he added.

The retired Justice also wondered why the Supreme Court would conclude that due to the supposed incompletion of the process of Mr Quayson’s renunciation of his Canadian passport, he still owed allegiance to Canada.

“It is difficult to think that Gyakye Quayson, who submitted his renunciation of Citizenship Papers to Canada in 2019, could still in December 2020 be held as seriously owing allegiance to Canada as a matter of hard realism as opposed to formalism,” Mr Atuguba said.

 Writer’s email: [email protected] 

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