fbpx

Supreme Court maintains Amewu in Parliament

BY: Justice Agbenorsi

The Supreme Court has dismissed a review application which sought to overturn its decision allowing the Electoral Commission (EC) to gazette Mr John-Peter Amewu as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Hohoe.

The seven-member review panel did not give reasons for the dismissal of the application in court but informed the respondents and interested parties that the ruling would be made available to them later in the day.

“The review application fails. The ruling will be made available to the parties later in the day.” - That was the terse ruling Justice Yaw Appau, who presided over the panel, said.

It took less than five minutes to dispense with the case, which has travelled from the lower courts to the apex court of the land.

The other members of the panel were Justices Samuel Marful-Sau, Gertrude Torkornoo, Lovelace Avril Johnson, Issifu Omoro Tanko, Yonny Kulendi and Prof. Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu.

The state was represented by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, while Mr Tsatsu Tsikata was lawyer for the interested parties.

Review

The review application came after the apex court had quashed two injunction orders by the Ho High Court restraining the EC from gazetting Mr Amewu and also presenting him to Parliament as the MP-elect for Hohoe.

The decision of the Supreme Court to quash the two injunctions was made after the A-G had invoked its supervisory jurisdiction, which sought an order of certiorari to quash the two interim orders granted by the Ho High Court, presided over by Justice George Buadi, on December 23, last year.

It was the case of counsel for the interested parties, Mr Tsikata, that the apex court fundamentally erred when it quashed the interim orders granted by the Ho High Court which had granted an injunction to five persons from Santrokofi, Akpafu, Likpe and Lolobi (SALL) challenging the decision of the EC not to allow the people of SALL to vote in the parliamentary election.

Mr Tsikata, at the previous sitting, had argued that the apex court breached the fundamental human rights of the residents of SALL when it quashed an order by the Ho High Court which had placed an injunction on the EC from gazetting Mr Amewu as MP-elect for Hohoe.

According to him, it would be in the interest of justice for the court to grant a review.

He had also argued that the apex court, in making the determination on the certiorari application filed by the A-G, did not make reference to well-established cases on the right to vote, for which reason the decision was “per incurium”.

On the other hand, a Chief State Attorney, Mrs Grace Ewool, who opposed the review application, argued that no new issue had been raised by Mr Tsikata to warrant the granting of the review application.

Mrs Ewool, accordingly, urged the court to dismiss the application.

The court upheld its earlier decision, which had quashed the injunction placed on the EC from gazetting Mr Amewu.

Case of SALL

On December 23, last year, five persons from SALL, led by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) parliamentary candidate for Hohoe in the 2020 election, Prof. Margaret Kweku, went to the Ho High Court with a human rights action challenging the decision of the EC in not allowing the people of SALL to vote in the parliamentary election.

They argued that the EC breached the fundamental human rights of the people to be treated fairly and without discrimination when it allowed every part of the country, except SALL, to vote in the parliamentary election.

Also, it was their case that the EC breached their rights to vote to be represented in Parliament and ultimately partake in the democratic process of the country.

The plaintiffs also argued that Mr Amewu's election was fraught with many “deficiencies”, and that he “was not duly elected to represent the people of Hohoe”.

On the same day that they filed the human rights application, they also filed an ex parte application for the High Court to put an interim injunction on the gazetting of Mr Amewu, which the court granted.

The panel which quashed the injunction said the Ho High Court had no jurisdiction to grant those orders.

It further held that the High Court did not have jurisdiction even to have entertained reliefs challenging the validity of Mr Amewu's election when the legal action giving rise to those reliefs fell within the purview of a human rights case.

It, accordingly, struck out the reliefs bordering on the validity of Mr Amewu's election.

The Supreme Court held that the legal action filed by the five individuals from SALL was a human rights action under Article 33 of the 1992 Constitution, but apart from the human rights reliefs, the applicants also added reliefs that related to a parliamentary election petition.

It was the considered view of the court that the two orders by the Ho High Court fell within the remit of a parliamentary election petition, which had nothing to do with a human rights action under Article 33 of the 1992 Constitution.

It held that although the High Court had jurisdiction under Article 99 of the 1992 Constitution to hear a parliamentary election petition, it could not use a human rights action under Article 33 of the 1992 Constitution to give orders which bordered on a parliamentary election petition under Article 99.

Again, the apex court held that the interim orders granted by Justice Buadi were for 10 days and, therefore, expired on January 2, but because they were made in error, they ought to be quashed.

The Supreme Court further held that the legal dispute at the Ho High Court, for which the people of SALL were seeking to enforce their fundamental human rights, was an alleged denial by the EC of the rights of the people of SALL to vote in the parliamentary election.

It said the five individuals from SALL rather had a case against the EC, not Mr Amewu.