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19.01.2006 Crime & Punishment

Judge maintains GCDA judgement

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Koforidua, Jan. 19, GNA - Mr. Justice Tom Bentil sitting at a Koforidua High Court on Thursday maintained his earlier ruling in favour of the Ghana Co-operative Distillers Association (GCDA) as the only legally constituted body to issue Waybills to authorise purchasers of Akpeteshie to convey same to retailing points in the country. The judge stressed the point in his judgement in a motion for a review of his earlier ruling on July 21, last year, jointly filed by the Odumaseman Distillers Union and the United Ghana Distillers Association (UGDA) brought before his court at Koforidua.

The two appellants in October, last year, won a stay of execution from another Koforidua High Court on a ruling pending the review of the judgement on the grounds that the Supreme Court, per a majority decision, ruled that Regulations 3(1) of Legislative Instrument(LI) 239 upon which the court, among others, based its judgement, was inconsistent with the 1992 Constitution.

The LI provided that "Every distiller shall dispose of the whole of his production of spirits either to a registered Co-operative or to a distiller or distillers directed to be placed under the control of the Excise Ordinance 1953 (No 31 of 1953) in pursuance of the provisions of Section 2 of the Act."

In his judgement, Justice Bentil, who awarded 7 million cedis cost against the applicants, maintained that the Regulation 21 of LI 239 was "consistent with the Constitution" and the applicants had no right under the law to purchase, distribute and convey alcohol to places. He said an application for a review based on an error of judgement on the laws was unmeritorious and therefore dismissed the application. Counsel for the applicants/respondents, Mr James Abiaduka, however, told the Ghana News Agency later that, his clients would appeal against the ruling by filing an application for leave to appeal.

Meanwhile, the General Manager of the GCDA, Mr Sam. B. Adzaklo, had appealed to the security agencies not to recognize any Waybills issued by any Akpeteshie distillers group except that of the GCDA, for the conveyance of the alcohol, with effect from today, Thursday. Speaking to the GNA after the verdict, he said before 2002, when there were no splinter groups in the industry, the GCDA was paying much revenue to the government in terms of taxes income tax, excise duty, VAT and SSNIT contribution of workers.

He said it was also able to maintain quality products, since it used alcoholmeters to assess the quality of the spirits before their sale to consumers, which, according to him, was not being followed by the several dozens of splinter groups that had sprung up. Jan. 19, 06