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General News Wed, 31 Jul 2019

You don’t need TIN to file cases - Supreme Court rules

The Supreme Court yesterday declared as unconstitutional the requirement that potential litigants must possess Tax Identification Numbers (TINs) before they can file cases in court.

It said that requirement flew in the face of the letter and spirit of the 1992 Constitution, the rule of law and international conventions.

Accordingly, the court declared it as null and void and of no effect.

This means potential litigants are free to file cases at the court, whether or not they have TINs.

Delivering her valedictory judgment at the court’s sitting in Accra yesterday, Justice Sophia O. A. Adinyira said it was unjustifiable for aspects of the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915) to oblige people to have TINs before seeking legal redress.

In a unanimous decision, the court held that the requirement under the act was an infringement on the rights of the individual.

According to the court, the unhindered access to the court was a provision in the rule of law.

The provision, as it stood, according to the court, offended the spirit of the 1992 Constitution and thus declared that provision void and of no legal effect.

Other members of the panel were Justices Jones V. Dotse, Anin Yeboah, Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, A. A. Bennin, Gabriel Pwamang and Nene Amegatcher.

Order

The court specifically struck down paragraphs 1 (9) and 2 (8) of the First Schedule of the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915) requiring parties to have TINs before commencing actions in the courts and quoting same in the court processes as unconstitutional and in contravention of certain provisions in the 1992 Constitution.

The order listed the provisions under the 1992 Constitution which have been offended by the First Schedule of Act 915 as articles 2 (1), 130, 33 (1), 48 (2), 132, 133 (1), 135, 137 (1), 140, 273 (1), 273 (1) and 280 of the 1992 Constitution.

Background

The plaintiff, the Centre for Juvenile Delinquency, on April 13, 2018 invoked the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and prayed the court to declare aspects of the First Schedule of Act 915 unconstitutional.

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Attorney-General were the defendants in the case.

Among the reliefs sought by the plaintiff was a declaration that Paragraph 2 (8) of the First Schedule of the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915), which prohibits a person from filing a case in court unless that person quotes the TIN issued in respect of that person under the TIN System by the GRA is inconsistent with and in contravention of articles 2(1), 33(1), 48(2), 130(1), 132, 133(1), 135, 137(1), 140, 273(1), 273(5) and 280 of the 1992 Constitution which guarantee a person’s right of access to court, hence consequently null, void and unenforceable.

It also sought a declaration that paragraphs 2(9) and 1(9) of the First Schedule of the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915) which prohibits a person from conducting any official business with the court unless that person quotes the TIN issued in respect of that person under the TIN System of the 1st Defendant are inconsistent with and in contravention of articles 2(1), 33(1), 48(2), 130(1), 132, 133(1), 135, 137(1), 140, 273(1), 273(5) and 280 of the 1992 Constitution which guarantee a person’s right of access to court, hence consequently null, void and unenforceable.

The plaintiff also prayed the court to declare that Paragraph 2 (8) of the First Schedule of the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915), which prohibits a person from filing a case in court unless that person quotes the TIN issued in respect of that person under the TIN System of the 1st Defendant is in contravention of the spirit of the Constitution, in terms of guaranteeing the right of all persons to access the court.

All the reliefs were granted by the court.

Source: Graphic.com.gh