Accra, Aug. 16, GNA - A contempt application filed against Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC) and six other officials, was on Thursday struck out by an Accra Fast Track High Court.
This follows the plaintiff's counsel Mr Ayikoi Otoo's prayer to the court to withdraw the contempt application following some developments on Constitutional Instrument (CI) 73 which dealt with the creation of new constituencies entitled “Representation of People (Parliamentary Constituencies) Instrument 2012”.
CI 73 was withdrawn by Parliament on Wednesday, August 15. It was however amended and put before Parliament for consideration on the same day.
Mr Otoo said since CI 73 had been withdrawn in Parliament; they would also withdraw the contempt application and come back with a new one.
Mr James Quashie-Idun who represented the EC and six other officials in court, vehemently opposed the withdrawal saying he would pray the court to award cost against the plaintiffs namely Richard Odum Bortier and Daniel Quaye.
He said the court should not grant Mr Otoo's application because they were at another court for a ruling on a stay of proceedings filed by the EC, adding, with the outcome of the said ruling there would be no need for withdrawal of the application.
The court presided over by Mr Justice Edward Amoako Asante declined to award cost, saying it was a constitutional matter.
“The application is struck out as withdrawn,” the court ruled.
Dr Afari-Gyan and six others were accused of ignoring a writ, statement of claim, entry of appearance, motion to stay proceedings together with its affidavit and went ahead with the demarcation of new constituencies.
The other respondents all officials of the EC include: Amadu Sulley, Kwadwo Sarfo Kantanka, Mrs Paulina Adobea, Ebenezer Aggrey Fynn, Mrs Rebecca Kabuki Adjafo and Mrs Saadatu Maida.
In an exparte-application filed by Richard Odum Bortier and Daniel Quaye, all applicants, on May 28, this year, commenced the action against the EC and the respondents.
In an affidavit sworn by Mr Bortier with the consent of Mr Quaye, they said the EC caused its solicitors to enter a conditional appearance, adding, the entry of appearance indicated beyond all reasonable doubt that the Commission and Commissioners had, had notice of the writ and statement of claim and were ready to submit themselves to the jurisdiction of the court.
The applicants said thereafter, the EC proceeded to file a motion praying the “Honourable court to stay proceedings and refer the suit to the Supreme Court”.
They said the writ, statement of claim, entry of appearance, motion to stay proceedings together with its affidavit were all pending before the court, when they heard that the Chairman of the EC had “Evinced an intention to go ahead with the demarcation of new constituencies which he fully knew would affect the subject-matter of litigation.”
The applicants said their counsel wrote a letter to be sent to all the Commissioners of the EC, warning them that once they had become aware of the pendency of the action before the court, any conduct on their part, which is likely to prejudice a fair hearing of the case or interfere with the due administration of justice would amount to contempt for which those interested in wrong would be shown that the law is irresistible.
In a related development, another Fast Track High Court presided over by Mr Justice K. A. Ofori Atta has declined jurisdiction over a stay of proceedings filed by the EC.
The EC had prayed the court to halt with proceedings to enable it seek a constitutional interpretation on CI 73.
Although, the court however declined jurisdiction, it noted that the matter was not a constitutional issue, and therefore asked parties to seek forum at the Boundaries Disputes Settlements Tribunal.
Mr Bortier and Mr Quaye had gone to seek an order against the EC to publish a CI setting forth the basis, processes methodology by which it created, reviewed and alter constituencies' of Ghana, having regard to provisions of Article 47, 23 and 296 of the Constitution.
They were further seeking an order restraining the EC from demarcating, reviewing, altering the boundaries of constituencies in future based upon the inherited formula and principles except upon publication of CI setting forth clearly the basis, process and methodology by which it did its work or as directed by the court."
The plaintiffs also seek a declaration in the inherited formulae and principles that the EC took into consideration to review and alter the constituency did not ensure fair representation.
They were further seeking a declaration that the EC's principle that every district must have a constituency was not warranted by the Constitution or any other law.