Deputy Speakers can vote: The Supreme Court has held that when presiding over House proceedings, a Deputy Speaker of Parliament or any other member of the legislature does not lose his or her ability to vote.
Article 104(1) of the 1992 Constitution allows such a Speaker or Member to be counted as part of the quorum for making decisions in the House.
As a result, the Court declared Order 109 (3) of the Standing Orders of Parliament to be “unconstitutional.”
The Order states that when presiding over the House’s proceedings, a Deputy Speaker or any other member of Parliament may not maintain his or her initial vote.
The Supreme Court has supported Deputy Speaker Joseph Osei-decision Owusu’s to include himself as forming quorum in the run-up to the contentious adoption of the Government’s 2022 Budget, which is instructive.
The historic ruling came in a lawsuit presented by a law professor, Justice Abdulai, who challenged the Deputy Speaker’s decision to count himself as establishing a quorum for a budget vote.
“On a true and proper interpretation of Articles 102 and 104(1) of the 1992 constitution, a Speaker or any other person presiding over Parliament cannot be said to be part of the members present for the purposes of decision-making,” Justice Abdulai wrote in his application for constitutional interpretation.
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The First and Second Deputy Speakers have the same authority as the Speaker of Parliament when presiding over Parliament, according to a true and proper interpretation of Articles 102 and 104(1), and thus cannot be counted as MPs present for the purposes of making a decision in accordance with Article 104(1) of the 1992 constitution.”
As a result of these events, he has requested the Supreme Court to declare that the decision to adopt the 2022 Budget on November 30, 2021, is null and void.
The 7-member Supreme Court, on the other hand, ruled that a Member-Speaker is allowed to be counted for quorum reasons, to conduct business, and to vote on House business (even while presiding).
Justices Jones Dotse, President, Nene Amegatcher, Prof. Ashie Kotei, Mariama Owusu, Avril Lovelace Johnson, Clemence Honyenuga, and Yonny Kulendi made up the Supreme Court.
On or before Friday, March 11, 2022, their ruling will be filed with the Supreme Court Registry.
The verdict backs up the stance of the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei Owusu, who was presiding as speaker in the absence of Alban Bagbin and voted to approve the 2022 budget.
Mr. Osei-Owusu, who is also the Member of Parliament for Bekwai (NPP) in the Ashanti Region, presided over an NPP-dominated House on November 30, last year, to reverse an earlier decision of the House rejecting the government’s 2022 budget.
Despite the fact that he was presiding over House business at the time, the Bekwai MP counted himself for the purpose of taking what turned out to be a contentious vote.
This vote essentially reversed an earlier vote made by Speaker Bagbin on November 26 by an NDC-dominated House.
The opposite side of the House had boycotted the House on both occasions due to concerns they had expressed.
Then, on Tuesday, February 22, 2022, the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu, ruled, denying a proposal for a bipartisan Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into the Government’s COVID-19 Expenditure that had previously been allowed by Speaker Bagbin.
Following the November 30, 2021 conflict between Speaker Bagbin and his First Deputy, Justice Abdulai petitioned the Supreme Court to declare Deputy Speaker Joseph Osei-action Owusu’s of counting himself for the sake of quorum as unlawful.
He contended that the Deputy Speaker could not include himself for quorum reasons under Articles 102 and 104 of the 1992 Constitution since he did not have an original or a casting vote as Speaker presiding.
Following the result, Justice Abdulai stated that he was not shocked by the decision and that he is pleased that the court’s involvement would bring clarity to Parliament’s standing rules.
He also hinted at intentions to enlist the Supreme Court’s help in interpreting a slew of other complicated legal issues in Ghana.
“The decision does not surprise me. Ghana’s constitution and people triumph. Despite the fact that some of the reliefs I was seeking were not granted, the highest court has made a far-reaching judgment today, knocking out elements of the standing orders.”