Lawyer, Bobby Banson, has opined that any attempt by the Minority side to physically prevent a presiding Deputy Speaker from casting a vote in Parliament will be in breach of the Supreme Court ruling and liable for high crime.
According to him, threats by some members of the Minority caucus in Parliament to physically prevent a presiding Deputy Speaker from voting despite the Supreme Court ruling permitting same, would be “the height of disrespect to the rule of law.”
Speaking on JoyNews’ Newsfile, Saturday, he stated that the only solution available to the Minority side is to seek an amendment of the Standing Orders of Parliament.
He said, “I doubt any of the Minority members will be bold enough to physically stop… I mean that will be the height of disrespect to the rule of law. They were not happy that the Majority decided on their own to overturn the decision of Speaker Bagbin. They should not take the law into their own hands.
“The Constitution said if they want, they can amend the Standing Orders. I think that what they can do is to form a consensus like Robert [Arday Clegg] said. Sit down, look at how they can move the agenda of developing the country through Parliament as an arm of government and stop this kind of threat.”
He called on the Attorney-General to take on any MP who decides to obstruct a presiding Deputy Speaker from voting.
“It cannot happen. If we are in a democratic regime, we have a constitution that gives the power to interpret the Constitution to the Supreme Court. If they’re not happy they can go back to the drawing table.
“If anybody attempts to do that, the Constitution says anybody who disobeys the order of the Supreme Court is liable for high crime (liable to imprisonment for up to 10 years without the option of a fine. And not be eligible for election or appointment to a public office).
“And I think that anybody who does that, the Attorney-General should take that step and prosecute the person. I mean we may not agree completely with the ruling of the Supreme Court but it doesn’t mean we should take the law into our own hands,” he said.
The Supreme Court presided over by Justice Jones Dotse ruled that a Deputy Speaker can be counted during the formation of a quorum for parliamentary decision-making and participate in voting while presiding over the parliamentary business.
The landmark judgement was given after private legal practitioner, Justice Abdulai, filed a case against the Attorney- General to contest the First Deputy Speaker Joseph Osei-Owusu’s decision to count himself during a vote to approve the 2022 budget.
Justice Abdulai had also asked the Supreme Court to interpret Articles 102 and 104 of the 1992 Constitution and declare the action of Mr. Osei-Owusu as unconstitutional.
Subsequently, the Court struck down Order 109(3) of the Standing Orders of Parliament and described it as unconstitutional.
The Minority in Parliament has described the ruling of the Court as politically motivated and one-sided.
Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, said the position of the Supreme Court is an “attack on the legislature.”
Speaking on Joy FM’s Top Story on Wednesday, he said the Minority will, within one month, seek a review of the ruling by the Court.
Also, the Ningo-Prampram MP, Sam George, asserted that the Minority in Parliament will employ any legal means within parliamentary procedure to stop the Deputy Speaker from voting when presiding over proceedings of the House.
According to Sam George, the Supreme Court’s judgment is an illegality.
“I deem it an illegality which would be that the person presiding in the House will take part in the vote he is superintending over,” he has said.
Former President Mahama also stated that the 7-0 ruling affects the independence of the legislative arm of government and may affect future deliberations in the House.