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Politics of Friday, 5 March 2004

Source: GNA

Creation of 30 new constituencies is valid - Supreme Court

The decision of the Electoral Commission (EC) to add 30 constituencies to the existing 200 for the forthcoming general election is valid, the Supreme Court declared on Friday.

The five-member panel presided over by Chief Justice Mr George Kingsley Acquah, was unanimous in the decision. It also refused an order of perpetual injunction. There was no order as to cost.

The other members were Ms Justice Sophia Akuffo, Mr Justice Sam Glenn Baddoo, Dr Justice Seth Twum and Professor Justice Kodzo Kludze. The court said "on the coming into force of the Constitutional Instrument (CI) 46 currently before Parliament, and having regard to the manner of electing our Parliamentary members, as set out in article 112 (4), and the plain and unambiguous language of Article 47 (6), the election of Parliamentary candidates for the 30 additional constituency, should feature in the December 2004 Presidential and Parliamentary elections, so that the next Parliament beginning in January 2005 shall satisfy the requirements of article 47 (1) of the Constitution."

In January, this year, Mr Luke Mensah, a teacher, filed a writ seeking an order of perpetual injunction, to restrain any political party, and any group of people, that purported to derail the effort of the EC to include the 30 newly-created constituencies in this year's Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
Mr Mensah, also a farmer and the plaintiff in the case, sought an interpretation of articles 47 (1), (5) and (6) including Article 113 of the Constitution on the creation of the new constituencies. The writ followed an announcement by the EC of the creation of 30 new constituencies towards the end of December last year.

The Supreme Court said considering the intense public controversy generated by the EC's decision, it decided that, notwithstanding, whatever the flaw in the Plaintiff's action, the Court went into the merits of his case.

The Court noted that there was no affidavit by the Plaintiff verifying facts and particulars in his statement of case, as required by Rule 46 (2) (a) of CI 16.

"Although the plaintiff's action is pegged on the views of EC and the NDC, either the NDC nor the EC are made parties to the action, nor even served with copies of the writ and the supporting papers."

The Court stated that the Plaintiff's action undoubtedly stemmed from the hue and cry by sections of the public in reaction to the EC's decisions to feature the proposed 30 new constituencies in the December 2004 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

It stated further that, some contended that the newly created constituencies should not feature in the December 2004 general election, but rather in the 2008 elections.

It said there were still others who held that the elections of candidates to represent the 30 newly created constituencies in Parliament should take place on January 7, 2005 when the alteration shall come into effect or soon thereafter.

The Court said in order to give opportunity to all registered political parties and the EC to be heard, it directed that the EC and all registered political parties should be served with the Plaintiff's writ and the accompanying papers, and permitted them to file a statement of case.

The court then adjourned the suit to February 25, this year for hearing. On that day, records showed that the writ and the accompanying papers had been served on the New Patriotic Party (NPP), National Democratic Congress, the Convention People's Party (CPP), Democratic People's Party (DPP), the EAGLE Party (EP), the People's National Convention (PNC), the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) and the Electoral Commission (EC).

Mr Asumah Kyeremeh, Counsel for the Plaintiff, argued that articles 47 and 113 had, as many as seven and four sub-sections respectively whose meanings were not clear.

This, the Plaintiff said, has generated national concern, which calls for constitutional interpretation.

The Plaintiff contended that upon proper interpretation of Articles 47 and 113 of the 1992 Constitution, the new constituencies created by the EC could be featured in the general election, contrary to arguments that it could not include the newly created constituencies in this year's elections.

Mr James Quarshie Idun (Jr.) with Mr. Aduamoah Osei represented the EC, while Dr. Somtim Tobiga appeared for PNC. March 5, 04