Monday, January 7, 2013

Bernard Mornah challenges C.I. 74

January 3, 2013 (Front Page) The General Secretary of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Mr Bernard Anbataayela 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. 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. However, the plaintiff, who brought the action in his personal capacity as a citizen of Ghana, argues that the courts may not open for business until the President issues an Executive Instrument (EI) permitting same to happen. The Attorney-General is the defendant in the suit, which was filed on December 30, 2012. A writ seeking to invoke the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court filed on Mr Mornah’s behalf by his counsel, Dr Raymond Atuguba, argues that “The Public Holidays Act, 2001 (Act 601) provides by implication in its sections 4, 5, and 6 that the courts of law may not open for business unless the President issues an Executive Instrument permitting same to happen.” “Indeed, it is an offence to hold court on a public holiday without such an EI and those who engage in such an act may be arrested, tried and punished in accordance with Act 601,” the statement of case accompanying the writ pointed out. The plaintiff is, accordingly, seeking a “declaration that on a true and proper interpretation of articles 133, 157, 93(2) and 11 of the 1992 Constitution, Rule 71B and a part of Rule 69C (5) of the Supreme Court (Amendment) Rules, 2012 (CI 74) are unconstitutional and must be declared null and void and of no effect”. He is further praying the highest court of the land to grant any consequential orders it might deem necessary. According to the plaintiff, he noticed in December 2012 that Rule 71B, a portion of Rule 69C (5) and a portion of the Supreme Court (Amendment) Rules, 2012 (CI 74) did not appear to be consistent with some provisions of the 1992 Constitution and sought legal advice on same. A date will be fixed for hearing after the Attorney-General has been duly served and he files his response. Mr Mornah’s suit comes at a time the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has 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.

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