General News of Wednesday, 23 January 2013
The Supreme Court has granted the National Democratic Congress' (NDC) application to be joined in the petition by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in which the opposition is questioning the integrity of the December 7 polls.
This ostensibly opens the way for the substantive matter to be heard by the Court on January 29.
The nine-member bench presided over by Justice William Atuguba, agreed to the argument raised by lawyers of the applicants and granted the application in a 6-3 majority decision.
The other judges are Justice Julius Ansah, Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira, Ms Justice Rose Owusu, Mr Justice Jones Dotse, Mr Justice Annin Yeboah, Mr P. Baffoe- Bonnie, Mr Justice N. S. Gbadegbe and Mrs Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo.
The presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the 2012 elections, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; his running mate, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, and the Chairman of the NPP, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, are contesting the declaration of President Mahama as winner of the 2012 presidential poll.
Also joined to the petition is the Electoral Commission (EC), which presided over the poll.
The petitioners are accusing the EC of doctoring the results in favour of President Mahama, but the EC has denied the claims and described the election results as credible and accurate.
Below are the arguments put forward by members of the bench
Mrs Justice Vida Akoto Bamfo, Justice of the Supreme Court in her ruling said the Supreme Court was seized with the power to go into the matter brought by the applicant.
She said political parties including the NDC were integral part of the current democratic dispensation and which selected and sponsored the first respondent to stand on its ticket.
She said the argument by the lawyers of the NPP that the applicant (NDC) have no relation to the selection of a candidate and that it was done through a document cannot be sustained.
Mrs Justice Bamfo said if the Supreme Court should come to a decision that the presidential elections should be re-run the applicant would still play a critical role in the selection and sponsoring of its candidate.
She said the NDC in this regard would be affected by the decisions of the court and in the interest of justice and fairness it should be allowed to join the petition.
Mr Justice William Atuguba who associated himself with Mrs Justice Bamfo explained that the word party in the law means an interested party.
He said Article 55 and 66 allows political parties to sponsor candidates to stand for presidential and parliamentary elections to capture political power.
Mr Atuguba said the restrictive approach sometimes adopted by the court to interpret a motion for application to a joinder should be avoided.
He said the applicant has a real interest in the matter and should be joined to the petition and also to assist the court to arrive at conclusive decision.
Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyerah and Ms Justice Rose Owusu, who associated themselves with the majority said even though granting of the application is discretionary it should be done in such a manner that it does not waste the courts time.
Mr Justice Jones Dotse who allied himself to his colleagues said even before the NDC joinder was heard it had generated strong emotions in the country.
He said a lot of injustice would be done if the applicant was not allowed to join the petition to seek their interest to ensure fairness and justice.
He said the court must put in place appropriate mechanism to ensure that the case was determined expeditiously.
However, Mr Justice Sulley Gbadegbe who also allied himself to the majority side told the court he prefers to reserve his ruling on the matter.
Conversely, Mr Justice Baffoe Bonney who opposed the decision for the NDC to be allowed to join the petition said he has still not been convinced that the suit from the applicant was meritorious and should be made to join the NPP petition.
He argued that whatever interest that the applicant was seeking could be channelled through the first respondent in the petition to gain the same effect.
Mr Justice Baffoe Bonney said although the applicants were able to demonstrate they have vested interest in the case, they failed to convince the court how they became a necessary party.
He said the law clearly indicates process by which one can challenge a petition and this must be done by human persons and not an entity.
He said apart from the Member of Parliament who cannot cross carpet and join another party the president can resigned from his political party and still rule with executive powers.
Mr Justice Anin Yeboah who associated himself with Justice Baffoe Bonney said the NDC was coming into the case as an intervener and failed to convince the court why it should joined to the petition.
He said the court can still go ahead and determined the case since the interest of the NDC is not more than that of the first respondent in the matter.
He said the rules of court do not allow the applicant to intervene in a matter which they are not a party to or are not part of a suit.
He said the application by the NDC was unnecessary since all the interest being pursued by the applicant could be taken care of by the first respondent in the petition.
Mr Justice Julius Ansah who also sided with his colleagues said the action can be contested without the involvement of the applicant.
After all the judges have made their contributions to the ruling the court rose for few minutes break.
When the court re-convened Mr Justice Atuguba, who headed the nine-member panel stated the court has granted the NDC its application to join the NPP petition.
He said they have been given seven days within which they are to file their answer to the court. The case was subsequently adjourned to January 29.