President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, has said he was surprised by the noise that was resulted from whether or not Deputy Speakers of Parliament could vote, once they were presiding in the chamber.
He indicated that Articles 102, 104 of the Constitution make it absolutely clear, “in black and white”, that the Deputy Speakers, when they are presiding have the right to participate in the vote of the Parliament.
The apex court on Wednesday dismissed an application to pronounce as unconstitutional, Joseph Osei Wusu’s action of counting himself for the purposes of quorum.
Justice Jones Dotse ruled that the Deputy Speaker of Parliament participation in voting was constitutional.
Private legal practitioner and law lecturer, Justice Abdulai subsequent to the November 30, 2021 clash between Speaker Bagbin and his First Deputy after the latter overturned an earlier vote of the House rejecting Government’s 2022 Budget invited the Supreme Court to pronounce as unconstitutional, Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu’s action of counting himself for the purposes of quorum.
He argued in the context of articles 102 and 104 of the 1992 Constitution that the Deputy Speaker was not permitted to count himself for the purposes of quorum, since he had neither an original nor a casting vote as Speaker presiding.
But the 7-member panel of justices ruled that the Member of Parliament for Bekwai exercised his right constitutionally, TV3’s Laud Adu Asare who was in court reported.
The SC struck out the standing order 109(3) which says a Deputy Speaker or any other member presiding shall not retain his original vote while presiding.
It furthered that the Deputy Speaker can be counted during the quorum for decision making according to article 104(1)
Justice Jones Dotse noted that the full ruling will be made available on Friday, March 11.
President Akufo-Addo told the Daily Guide on Thursday March 10 that “Indeed, and I believe that is part of the reasoning of the Court, all the Legislatures of the world, where the presiding person is a Member of the Legislature, like our Deputy Speakers are, like the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the United States of America or the President pro tempore of the Senate in the United States, or the Speaker of the British Parliament have the right to speak because they are Members of the Assembly,” President Akufo-Addo said.
He continued, “Our Speaker is expressly not a Member of the Assembly, that is why he doesn’t have the right to vote. In fact, he really ought not to participate in the deliberations of the House, he is a referee making sure that the debate is conducted properly, or the orders of the House are complied with. That is his role. But he ought, strictly speaking, not to be part of the proceedings of the House. That is not the case with the Deputy Speakers, and that matter is transparent on the face of our Constitution”.
The President noted that even the Presiding Members in the country’s District Assemblies have the right to vote, because they are members of the Assembly.
“Once you’re a member of the Assembly, and you’re representing certain constituencies. If you are denied your right to vote, it is tantamount to denying the right of the people you represent to have a say in the decisions of the Assembly. That will not be right. So, I could not understand what the furore and controversy that was artificially generated,” he added.