Supreme Court adjourns Bernard Mornah's case

BY: Sebastian Syme

The Supreme Court has adjourned to March 14, 2013, the case in which Mr Bernard Mornah is challenging the new Supreme Court rule which states that the hearing of a petition against a presidential election shall be done on a daily basis, including public holidays.

But before the adjournment, a private legal practitioner, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, sought to join the case.

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Rule 69 C (5) of the Supreme Court (Amendment) Rules, 2012 (CI 74) provides in part as follows: "The court shall sit from day to day, including public holidays", when hearing a presidential election petition.

The CI 74 is the law  being used to regulate disputes arising out of the December 7 and 8, 2012 general elections

The plaintiff, Mr Bernard Mornah, the General Secretary of the Peoples National Convention (PNC) the plaintiff, brought the action in his personal capacity as a citizen of Ghana, arguing that the courts may not open for business until the President issues an Executive Instrument (EI) permitting the court to sit on such days.

But at it’s sitting Wednesday; Mr Dame prayed the court to be allowed to file a brief on the matter since he had information that would be relevant to the issues at stake.

The Attorney-General is the defendant in the suit, which was filed on December 30, 2012.

The seven-member panel presided over by Justice Mr Julius Ansah directed that he filed the necessary documents by the next adjourned date on March 14, 2013.

Other Justices on the panel were Sophia O. Adinyira, Rose C. Owusu, Anin-Yeboah, Sule N. Gbadegbe, Vida Akoto-Bamfo and A.A Benin.

Although Mr Mornah was in court, his counsel, Mr Benson Nutsukpui, was in court to file a memorandum of issues agreed by the parties in persuant of the Court’s order on January 31, 2013.

Among the issues agreed by the parties to be determined by the court include whether or not the true and proper interpretation of Articles 157, 93(2) and 11 of the 1992 Constitution, that part of the Rule 69 C(5) of CI 74 which states that “including ‘Public Holidays’ purports to amend an Act of Parliament and is therefore, unconstitutional and must ne declared null and void and of no effect.

The parties also agreed that the court decide on or not the true and proper interpretation of Article 33 of the 1992 Constitution, the Supreme Court is granted the power and authority to review its own decisions and whether or not Rule 71B of CI 74 is consistent with Article 133 of the 1992 Constitution and for that matter must be declared null and void and of no effect.

Further the courts is being prayed to take a decision on whether it would not amount to the interference in the administration of Justice and violation of Article 125 (3) of the 1992 Constitution, if the President by an Executive Instrument authorises the court to sit on public holidays, as in section 6 of Act 601.

The Attorney General was not represented in court today, but counsel for Mr Mornah, Mr Nutsukpui told the AG representative had told him that he had no knowledge of the case being up for hearing today. The Supreme Court during its last sitting adjourned sine die (indefinitely).

Mr Mornah’s suit came at a time the New Patriotic Party (NPP) had filed a petition challenging the December 2012 presidential election results at the Supreme Court.

The plaintiffs in the suit are the presidential candidate of the NPP in the 2012 elections, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; his running mate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and the National Chairman of the NPP, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey.

Story by Seth J. Bokpe