According to Article 97 (1)(c) "A member of Parliament shall vacate his seat in Parliament if he is absent, without the permission in writing of the Speaker and he is unable to offer a reasonable explanation to the Parliamentary Committee on Privileges from fifteen sittings of a meeting of Parliament during any period that Parliament has been summoned to meet and continues to meet."
The following issues arose in Professor Asare v. Attorney General when Amoateng was incarcerated in USA.
Does an MP automatically vacates his seat when he absents himself from parliament without explanation for 15 sitting days?
Can parliament grant an MP permission to be indefinitely absent from parliament?
What is the maximum period that a Speaker could allow an MP to absent from parliament?
Are courts restrained from reviewing parliament's decisions regarding absences from parliament?
The high court dismissed Professor Asare's writ. However, on appeal, the Court of Appeal unanimously upheld the claims of Professor Asare and provided the following definitive answers to these questions in the attached case. The court held that;
An MP automatically vacates his seat when he absents himself from parliament without explanation for 15 sitting days. That parliament cannot grant an MP permission to be indefinitely absent from parliament; That the maximum period that a Speaker could allow an MP to be absent from parliament is 15 days; and The courts can review parliament's decisions regarding absence from parliament.
The decision is of significant importance and MPs should familiarize themselves with this ruling to avoid falling foul of the law.
Credit: Kwaku Azar
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