High Court Judge Erred In Zanetor Case
By Maame Agyeiwaa Agyei
Four out of the five member Supreme Court panel, presided over by Justice William Atuguba, yesterday ruled that Justice Kweku T. Ackah Boafo of the General Jurisdiction Court erred when he interpreted Article 94 (1)(a) of the 1992 Constitution, in a case in which the Member of Parliament (MP) of Klottey-Korley is challenging the eligibility of Dr. Zanetor Agyemang Rawlings to contest the parliamentry election in November.
The five-member panel was made of Justice William Attuguba, Justice Ampa Benin, Justice Yaw Appau, Justice Gabriel Pwamang and Justice Anin Yeboah.
The majority decision, read on behalf of the four justices by Justice Atuguba, said the interpretation of the Constitution is the sole duty of the Supreme Court, and the lower courts including the high court, can only apply.
By a 4-1 decision, the highest court of the land ordered that the High Court stay proceedings for it to assume the hearing of a proper interpretation of the Article 94 (1a). It, however, upheld the order of certiorari, by quashing the decision of the High Court which interpreted Article 94 (1) (a) of the 1992 Constitution.
Justice Anning Yeboah, who held a dissenting opinion, said he saw nothing wrong with the decision of the High Court, saying he was of the view that no interpretation issue arose in respect of the ruling.
He indicated that the lower court has not interpreted the Article 94 (1a), because the wording in that particular article was clear and unambiguous, adding a clear distinction should be drawn between a Constitutional Interpretation and a Constitutional Provision.
Justice Anning Yeboah said the court is bound to adhere to the Constitution if the language in the said provision was clear, so the applicant had not satisfied the court that indeed the High Court breached the constitution.
The court, therefore, asked the various parties in the case, made up of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) parliamentary nominee for Klottey-Korley Constituency, Dr. Zanetor Agyemang Rawlings, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the incumbent MP for Klottey-Korley Constituency, Nii Armah Ashitey, to file their submissions simultaneously in two weeks for the substantive hearing to begin on June 2.
Dr. Zanetor Agyeman Rawlings filed the case at the Supreme Court, seeking an order of prohibition directed at the trial judge, Mr. Justice Kwaku T. Ackah Boafo of an Accra High Court, from further hearing the matter.
According to her, the trial judge erred in law when he wrongfully assumed the jurisdictional role to interpret Article 94 (1) (a) of the 1992 Constitution.
Her lawyer, Godwin Tamaklo, in opposing, said that the function of the interpretation of the Constitution was done by the Supreme Court and not the High Court in the matter at stake.
The trial judge had ruled that since Dr Zanetor had put herself up, she was entangled in the web of Article 94 (1) (a), which stipulates that she should be a registered voter before participating in last November’s parliamentary primary.
The Counsel was of the view that the said ruling be brought before the SC for same to be quashed.
Nii Armah Ashitey's stance
The incumbent Member of Parliament, who lost to Dr. Rawlings during the primary, proceeded to the SC challenging his defeat in the November 11, 2015 primary, citing some constitutional breaches.
He contended that Dr. Zanetor Rawlings did not qualify to be elected as the parliamentary nominee, since, at the time of the contest she was not a registered voter in the country. Something he described as a constitutional breach.
Mr. Gary Nimako Marfo, lawyer for Nii Armah Ashitey, argued that as at the time of contesting the primary, Dr. Zenator Rawlings was not a registered voter.