Parliament cannot instruct School of Law to admit 499 students - AG

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The Attorney General (A-G) and Minister of Justice, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame says Parliament has no power to instruct the Ghana School of Law to admit the 499 students who have been denied admission after the entrance examination.

In a letter dated November 1, 2021 and addressed to the Speaker of Parliament, the A-G said the legislature has no role to issue that directive under Article 106 of the 1992 Constitution.

He indicated that whilst recognising the general legislative powers of Parliament, as have been circumscribed by the Constitution, "I am constrained to advise that Parliament is devoid of a power through the use of parliamentary resolutions, to control the process of admission into the Ghana School of Law."

To him, the mode of exercising legislative power enshrined in Article 106 of the 1992 Constitution "does not admit of resolutions."

He indicated that, "In accordance with section 13(1)(e) of the Legal Profession Act, 1960 (Act 32), the power to regulate admission of students to pursue courses of instruction leading to qualification as lawyers and to hold examinations which may include preliminary, intermediate and final examinations has been vested in the General Legal Council".

He said it is correct that section 1(5) of Act 32 stipulates that "The Council [General Legal Council] shall in the performance of their functions comply with any general directions given by the Minister."

"In my respectful opinion, this provision underscores the capacity of the Executive not the Legislature, through the Minister responsible for the General Legal Council, i.e. the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, to direct and advise the Council on major matters of national importance.

Read also: Admit all 499 students - Parliament to Ghana School of Law

Last Friday, Parliament, by a resolution, directed the Ghana School of Law (GSL) to admit all 499 students who passed the recent entrance examination but have been denied admission.

"The General Legal Council is hereby directed to proceed and admit all the students who passed in accordance with the advertised rules of the examinations," the Parliamentary directive indicated.

It added, "The Attorney-General is the leader of the bar in Ghana and he must see to it that the directive that 499 students who scored 50 marks are admitted is complied with. We do not want to get to contempt of Parliament issues."

But reacting, the A-G, Mr Yeboah Dame respectively indicated that the resolution passed by Parliament on Friday, October 29, 2021 cannot be considered since Parliament has no constitutional powers for that directive.

However, he indicated President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo per a petition by the 499 candidates has already directed the A-G to make the necessary intervention to the GLC on behalf of the candidates.

That directive from the President, he said came "three clear days" before the Parliamentary resolution.

"Within the constraints of the law, I am following up on the directive of the President to make the necessary intervention on behalf of the students."

"Be that as it may, it is imperative to correct a few erroneous impressions contained in the impugned Parliamentary resolution of 29th October, 2021." 

Related: Law School did not advertise 50 percent pass mark for admission - A-G to Parliament

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