Friday, August 31, 2012
Petition on new constituencies cannot be heard till Oct
AUGUST 31, 2012 (Front Page) THE Judicial Service has explained that it is impossible to immediately empanel Justices of the Supreme Court during the legal vacation to hear a suit challenging the creation of 45 new constituencies. According to the service, almost all the Justices of the Supreme Court are out of the jurisdiction on legal vacation while the rest are scheduled to leave the jurisdiction by the first week of September. Reacting to a petition it received from Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, counsel for Mr Ransford France, the man challenging the creation of the new constituencies, the Judicial Service in a statement dated August 29, 2012 to the Daily Graphic said “we did indeed receive a petition from counsel for Ransford France on Monday, August 27, 2012 bearing the same date”. “Again, while the instant case of J1/24/2012 Ransford France vrs. Electoral Commission and Attorney-General is ripe for hearing, almost all the Justices of the Supreme Court are out of the jurisdiction on legal vacation. The rest are scheduled to leave the jurisdiction by the first week of September and return at the end of September,” the statement said. Under the circumstances, the statement, which was signed by the Judicial Secretary, Mr Alex B. Poku-Acheampong, stated that the earliest date within the legal vacation when the case could be heard was Thursday, October 4, 2012. The statement said another electoral case titled James Amarh Amartey vrs. Electoral Commission and Attorney-General would also be heard on October 4, 2012. According to the statement, “it is the determination of the Hon. Lady Chief Justice that all electoral cases are disposed of before the commencement of the 2012/2013 Legal Year”. It further pointed out that two other cases of an electoral nature would be heard on Friday, October 5, 2012. The legal year is expected to commence on October 9, 2012. Mr Dame had prayed the Chief Justice to empanel judges to hear his case in order to avoid chaos in the country as, according to him, the issue on the creation of new districts “had overwhelming public interest”. The other defendant in the case is the Attorney-General, who according to counsel had not filed a response to the suit as of yesterday. The EC for its part has put in a defence denying any wrongdoing. Responding to the Judicial Service’s statement, Mr Dame said he appreciated the necessity for the distinguished judges of the Supreme Court to have a holiday but pointed out that “my only difficulty is that, with the imminent recall of parliament from recess, injury may be occasioned the whole nation, since by the time the suit is heard, the CI73 which is being challenged would have entered into force”. The EC has come under attack from the Minority in Parliament and other members of the public, some of whom have filed similar suits challenging the legality of the creation of new constituencies. The leadership of Parliament and the Electoral Commission (EC) on August 14, 2012 agreed to withdraw CI 73 which was to establish 45 new constituencies on account of several errors on the CI. The EC replaced the CI 73 with an amended one which is expected to mature in 21 Parliamentary sitting days. Parliament is currently on recess and is expected to be recalled on September 3, 2012 for an emergency sitting on the matter. Mr Dame filed the suit on July 6, 2012 challenging the power of the EC to go ahead with the creation of new constituencies without first laying before Parliament, a Constitutional Instrument indicating clearly the mechanism, formula or modalities by which it intended to undertake that exercise. Counsel is praying the court to perpetually restrain the EC from laying before Parliament any Constitutional Instrument creating new constituencies and/or revoking the Representation of the People (Parliamentary Constituencies) Instrument, 2004 [C.I. 46], until it laid before Parliament a Constitutional Instrument which clearly sets out the processes to be adopted by the EC.