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Speaker of Parliament ‘surprises’ Supreme Court in anti-gay bill suit 

The two suits seeking the invalidation of the Human and Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill, popularly known as the anti-gay bill took a surprise twist Wednesday when the Speaker of Parliament informed the Supreme Court that he indeed conducted a financial analysis on the bill as required by law.

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Counsel for the Speaker, Thaddeus Sory, during the hearing of an application seeking to restrain the Speaker from submitting the bill to the President for his assent, informed the court that he had just gotten new information from his client.

According to counsel, the new information showed that the Speaker of Parliament indeed gave an opinion on the impact of the bill on the public purse, and also caused a fiscal impact analysis to be conducted on the bill, pursuant to Article 108 of the 1992 Constitution and the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921).

Mr Thaddeus Sory therefore requested the apex court to allow him to file the new information as part of the defence of the Speaker of Parliament.

Opposition

Counsel’s request was opposed by the Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame who described it as a “surprise” and “unfair”.

“The process by which the Speaker of Parliament is seeking to adduce this evidence is very much unfair.

“Where has the evidence been all along? He has kept it to his bosom for two years when the bill was first introduced to Parliament. He now springs this as a surprise on all of us,” the A-G argued.

The Chief Justice, Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, who presided over a five - member panel of the court, was also not enthused about the timing of introducing the fiscal impact analysis and the opinion of the Speaker on the bill.

“I think you have to accept that this is very unfair. This case has been on the table for almost a year,” she said.

The Chief Justice directed counsel to file the new information in the substantive case and not in the applications for interlocutory injunction.

Why is this important?

The issue of whether or not the Speaker of Parliament gave an opinion on the financial impact the bill would have on the consolidated fund, as well as the fiscal impact analysis on the bill, is at the heart of the two suits challenging the constitutionality of the bill.

It is the case of the plaintiffs in the two separate suits that the bill is unconstitutional because the  Speaker of Parliament failed to give an opinion on the financial impact of the bill before it was laid before Parliament, as stipulated by Article 108 of the 1992 Constitution.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will on July 17, 2024 give a ruling on the two applications seeking to restrain the Speaker of Parliament from  transmitting the bill to the President for his assent, until the final determination of the suits challenging the constitutionality of the bill.

Writer’s email : [email protected]

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