Friday, July 17, 2015

Supreme Court dismisses case against UG road toll charges

 UPDATE: Supreme Court dismisses case against UG road toll charges
A suit brought by two students of the University of Ghana which sought to challenge the collection of road tolls by the university authorities was yesterday dismissed by the Supreme Court.
Citing lack of jurisdiction as its main reason, the seven-member panel unanimously dismissed the suit and advised the lawyer for the applicants to go to the proper forum.
The applicants, Ernest Victor Apau and Musah Mustapha, had prayed the court to perpetually restrain the university and its agents from charging motorists who plied the university’s routes.
They also urged the court to declare the action of the university as unconstitutional.
Court’s decision
But in its decision, the court was emphatic that the issues raised by the plaintiffs were non-constitutional.
“There is no issue on interpretation when it comes to road user fees,” the ruling, read on behalf of the court by Mr Justice N. S. Gbadegbe, held, noting that the matter bordered on human rights.
The court was presided over by Mr Justice Julius Ansah, with Mr Justice Anin Yeboah, Mr Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, Mrs Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo, Mr Justice Anthony A. Benin and Mr Justice Joseph Akamba as the other members.
We disagree
Reacting after the hearing, counsel for the plaintiffs, Mr Egbert Faibille Jnr., said, “We disagree but accept the court’s decision.”
He said the court acted like Pontius Pilate by washing its hands off the case but disclosed that he would file a fresh suit at the High Court.
Reliefs being sought
The applicants took the action following the university’s plan to charge road tolls with effect from February 1, 2014.
The reliefs sought included a declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 174 (1) of the 1992 Constitution, the road usage and user charges the university sought to introduce amounted to taxation.
According to them, the move by the university to exempt some of its members of staff from paying the road usage and user charges was in violation of Article 17 (1) (2) and (3) of the 1992 Constitution.
They also saw the move as an abuse of discretionary powers and, therefore, prayed the court not to countenance it.
The applicants had argued that the action of the respondent had violated Article 174 (1) of the 1992 Constitution because the tolls were introduced without an Act of Parliament.

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