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09.02.2006 Diaspora News

DVC responds to Deputy Minority Leader's Writ.

By Dr. Agyenim Boateng, Attorney, Kentucky, USA and the Diaspora Vote Committee
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This is a brief legal response of the DVC to the writ filed by the Deputy Minority Leader (Hon. Edward Adjaho) on ROPAB to seek a nullification by an Accra High court of parliamentary debate of ROPAB on the grounds that its reintroduction to Parliament is delayed: by three months.

Is there any mitigating or extenuating circumstance to explain the three months "delay" of the Representation of the People Amendment Bill (ROPAB) being presented to Parliament for a second reading and debate? If so, was the delay reasonable, simply an over sight or a willful neglect calculated to stall the passage of the Amendment for the benefit of the Government?

A preceding clause in article 106 (2)(a) in the Constitution waives the application of Article 106 (14) on some Bills if it is shown by the Bill's sponsor that there is urgency, necessity to cure a defect in existing law, law or the need for the Bill to be handled differently. No doubt the isues presented by ROPAB with its attendant passion and interest it has generated throughout the nation and among the Ghana Diaspora about the merits and demerits of ROPAB's passage warranted that the Committee goes beyond the normal process of hearings. Therefore the Committee conducting its hearing within and outside the countries was an effort to garner varied opinion on the Bill which should reasonably explains the over three months "delay".

Secondly, procedurally, the Deputy Minority's (Adjaho) "case" is neither moot nor ripe for adjudication. Moot in the sense that he never complained during the first reading and the Bill is now on the floor of Parliament for deliberations. Alternatively, his "case" is not ripe for adjudication since the matter has not blossomed into a case or controversy. Thus, the Court cannot issue any declaration or an advisory opinion for issues that are either moot or premature.

More importantly, the Supreme Court cannot constitutionally intervene or interfere in the proceedings of Parliament by any writ since its deliberations are guided by its own rules of procedure or Standing Orders. Hence a judicial review may be used only after the Bill becomes law and the Court is so asked to adjudicate on its constitutionality. It is thereafter that the Plaintiff can constitutionally avail himself of such right.

In case a Judge of the High Court grants jurisdiction, the Government lawyers or A.G should immediately seek the removal of the suit to the Supreme Court for an en-banc expeditious hearing to forestall any effort to prolong, ad infinitum, the legislative process.

Hon. Adjahoe does not deserve any victory, pyrrhic or otherwise. The case should be dismissed with prejudice and very prohibitive and punitive costs assessed against him.

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