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The court is guided by wisdom, public policy and the law

Feature Article The court is guided by wisdom, public policy and the law
MAR 12, 2022 LISTEN

Unlike most people that have commented on the latest Supreme Court decision that asserts that a Deputy Speaker can vote while presiding in the house, I have read the decision fully. And I can say that those who can take time to read and reason along with the logic of the apex court will accept its ruling without compunction. To wit, the reasoning of the court was succinctly on point.

Besides, those with any common sense to comprehend logic, should not be surprised that the case turned the way it did. When the law lords sit in their chairs to analyze a case, they assume the long view past the commonplace insight into the future, aware of the profound impact of their ruling upon posterity; so their opinions are not like writing upon a Facebook page; or giving trite responses on a WhatsApp platform. They abide by their responsibilities to the nation and generations, avoiding any foreseeable naivete and stupidity. They want their rulings to stand the whirligigs of time, and to be valued by those with the insight in ideal jurisprudence.

After all, how many people reading this article can sincerely say that they have read the opinion fully? And if we can just stand up and shout on top of our voices and condemn this opinion without reading it, what does our cacophony make of us? The court has no time to write for this class of clueless people, and its opinion remains undisturbed no matter the opinion of the ignorant..

We have to begin with the fundamental question of exactly what this hullabaloo was all about. It was about a simple quorum to pass a budget. If there was a quorum, a budget passed. And the government continued with its governance, which it had a duty to do. If there was no quorum, a government’s business stalled, and chaos might probably reign.

And with this simple question, if you are a judge before whom this matter was brought, what are you going to do? Are you going to rule for those determined to wreck the nation by stalling the functioning of government? Or you are going to find a way to thwart the agenda of the nation wreckers?

There are those who think that court ruling has everything to do with only the written law. But the written law is just an abstract guide which is given force and life by the interpretation that is given to it by those who are empowered to do so. If sticking to the letter of the law leads to absurd consequences, judges will apply the spirit of the law which lies within their own bosom. That is what we call the prudential wisdom of the court. For example, if the court had ruled that a budget passed in November 2021 was invalid, how would it have served the country? And how would it have advanced the cause of our economy, security and prosperity?

So in effect, this thing was about wisdom and commonsense, not entirely about the rigid adherence of any law or rules as written. If anybody takes any matter to any court to exact his pound of flesh, he will be left humiliated, as in the case of Shylock in the “Merchant of Vernice”………..

But even all these perorations aside, the Supreme Court’s ruling was ensconced in law and logic. We have a parliament in which both the opposition and the governing party share equal numbers. You want to tilt the numbers to your side, so you make one member from the governing side a Deputy Speaker, ostensibly to deprive him of a vote in order to cleverly tilt the majority to your side. How does that sound to you?

And you think a Supreme Court is going to help you juggle the numbers in that way? That would have been the path to absurdity. People who have no clue about the court’s methods can continue to tickle themselves forever; but the court is no fool as you think. Justice Yonny Kulendi, writing for the unanimous decision, succinctly stated: ”To cause a member to forfeit their vote in parliament merely on account of having to preside over the business of the House in the Speaker’s absence would unfairly disenfranchise not only the presiding member but also their constituents. Such an interpretation would likely give rise to certain perverse outcomes and/or incentives. For example, it could lead to opportunistic absences by a Speaker or the other Deputy Speakers, as an absence would mean a vote less by the presiding member and their party.”

That is the whole logic of this opinion. And that kind of wisdom can only come from the North

And that is also what we are arguing here when the matter devolves into law and logic. And those who cannot read the full opinion can avert their eyes from the standing orders of parliament to examine the reasoning above. And if they can provide an answer to that kind of reasoning, let them go ahead to provide it here. Otherwise they should shut up.

Even that aside, if any court of competent jurisdiction were invited to rule on the question of a quorum for any meeting under any conceivable scenario, the inclination of the court will always be in favor of a quorum. Period. How can you expect a court to decide the question of a quorum strictly on statute when the court will rather prefer a proceeding to go forward? That will even be against public policy to say that a whole parliament, convened to decide on a budget, should be stalled on the flimsy excuse that there is no quorum.

I say again that people who have no clue of the workings of the court can tickle themselves and assert that the court is ignorant of the implications of its ruling and will follow a statute into absurdity. Which is better? For something to go forward or to go backward? The advice to the opposition is therefore that if they want to win their cases, they should have the long view of progress in consideration. The Supreme Court has the inherent duty to ensure that the country makes progress, and so if you are on the side of retrogression, you will lose each time…….. as in the case of a budget approval, or even an election results, or a simple quorum. The proposition is a losing one for those who think that the Court will make them win when they are all out for mischief. The philosophy of law, otherwise known as jurisprudence, will never allow the nation wreckers to win. Period!

By Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo, Esq.

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