Supreme court's ruling brings more confusion

Supreme Court 23 The supreme court asserts that a Deputy Speaker can vote while presiding in the house

Sat, 12 Mar 2022 Source: Isaac Kyei Andoh

The Supreme Courts ruling is a problematic one even for an average English reader who can comprehend the English Language when he reads it.

The 1992 Constitution was not made for lawyers alone, it was made for every Ghanaian and so even though some have the power to give interpretation like the Supreme Court claim to have done on the rights of Acting Speakers, we are all supposed to understand it to the point of being able to protest any attempt to misapply it.

Now let's look at this

Article 102

A quorum of Parliament, apart from the person presiding, shall be one-third of all the members of Parliament.

Here, the constitution says that a person presiding cannot form part of a quorum. Parliament has two quorums, A quorum for business and a quorum for decision. A quorum for business represents one-third of the house present for business, a quorum for decision represents 50% plus one. The Supreme Court upholds this, they accept that the Speaker, be it substantive or deputy cannot form part of the quorum for business while presiding. If you cannot be part of the quorum for business, how do you become part of the quorum for decision?

Article 104

Except as otherwise provided in this Constitution, matters in Parliament shall be determined by the votes of the majority of members present and voting, with at least half of all the members of Parliament present.

The Speaker shall have neither an original nor casting vote.

Me: Clause one creates a distinction: members present and voting. It is a subtle admission that there could be members present and not voting.

Clause 2 says the Speaker Shall have neither an original nor casting votes.

The Speaker has no vote, that is a fact. However, anyone who takes the speaker's position takes upon himself the responsibility of the speaker, the privileges and the limitations that come with it. This is why in practice, equal weight is given to rulings by whoever is presiding. There is no distinction. When Joe Osei Owusu presides, he is recognized as the speaker, given everything Bagbin is given and his decisions placed on the same pedestal as that of Bagbin.

If you cannot form part of a quorum, it is illogical to say you can preside and yet vote in any setting and Parliament should not be an exception.


The judges based their rulings on Representation. They are arguing that once you deny a deputy speaker the right to vote when he is presiding, you have denied his constituents a fair representation. This, on the surface, makes sense, but it comes with a lot of problems and represents quite a hypocritical look at what transpires in Parliament. My reasons for this:

1. There has never been perfect representation, our constitution does not even insist on that. Otherwise, we don't need a quorum of less than 100% of members, every member has to be present every time before we can say every Ghanaian has been represented

2. If the constitution wanted perfect representation, there wouldn't be a binding directive one the president to appoint at least 50% of his ministers from Parliament.

3. Also, being part of the leadership of Parliament gives the deputies speakers an advantage over regular MPs, they have more opportunities in terms of lobbying for projects than an MP who isn't in leadership. in view of this, his constituents are compensated for in times when they are unable to function fully as MPs.

Article 102 closes this case easily, if you are not qualified to be counted as part of a quorum for business, you are not qualified to be part of the quorum for a decision.

The speaker is supposed to be neutral and impartial, how do you expect the same person shouting "yea" to honestly declare in favour of "nay"? It is even against the natural law of justice.

I have also seen the misguided comparison between the speaker's role and that of the EC Chair. The Chair does not exercise discretionary powers over who wins an election, she doesn't determine it, she only announces what is brought to her, figures she receives in the full glare of other stakeholders.

It's not the same as a speaker who gives rulings based on what he thinks.

Thankfully, Parliament is not bound by the Supreme Court Rulings, they are the masters of their own rules and hence, the ruling of the Speakers is more binding. The speaker has given his ruling on this matter, a ruling that is consistent with Standing Order 109.3.

What the Supreme Court was to do was to clear the confusion, it is fair to say that they failed to bring closure and rather compounded it.

This can't stand the test of time and won't be consistent with practice.

My name is Isaac Kyei Andoh , I am not a lawyer but I can read and can comprehend what I read.

Columnist: Isaac Kyei Andoh