Monday, 22 July

Gyakye Quayson case: We disagree with you but you're qualified to be CJ – Minority to Torkornoo

Justice Gertrude Araba Esabaa Torkornoo

Representatives of the minority caucus on the appointments committee of parliament have said they will not withhold their approval of the Chief Justice nominee Gertrude Araba Essaba Torkornoo by consensus although they disagree with her interpretation of the text of the 1992 Constitution as regard the James Gyakye Quayson case.

The minority’s position comes after the Supreme Court released a document detailing the reasons for annulling the election of James Gyakye Quayson as MP for Assin North, as a result of which it ordered parliament to expunge his name from its records.

The minority, in a statement signed by the Deputy Ranking Member of the appointments committee, Mr Governs Kwame Agbodza, noted that when the CJ nominee appeared before the vetting committee, she said she was a textualist in her preferred approach to interpreting the 1992 Constitution.

With this in mind, the minority caucus noted that the text in dispute in the James Gyakye Quayson case was Article 94(2)(a) of the Constitution, which read “94(2) a person shall not be qualified to be a member of parliament if

“(a) owes allegiance to a country other than Ghana”.

The minority said at the time of being sworn in as an MP, Mr Quayson had successfully renounced all allegiances to any other country and his allegiance was to only the Republic of Ghana.

The minority is of the view that the controlling provisions in the resolution of the dispute are the words “qualified to be a member of parliament”.

The statement said they are disappointed that a textualist like Justice Torkornoo abandoned the text and chose to read into the text, a replacement text: “Qualified to file nomination papers to contest for an election as a member of parliament”

The statement added that while the clear language of the Constitution was dealing with qualification, “to be a member of parliament”, the Supreme Court veered off and was dealing with “eligibility or qualification of a person to contest as a Member of Parliament”.

Regardless, the Minority noted that James Gyakye Quayson is gearing up to contest the by-election in Assin North constituency, which has been brought about by the Supreme Court decision, and, in that regard, “we the members of the appointment committee representing the NDC will not withhold our approval of the CJ nominee by consensus.”

The Minority stated that Justice Torkornoo’s CV reveals a person of considerable experience having serve as a judge from the High Court to the Court of Appeal and ultimately the Supreme Court.

“Women who have acquitted themselves should be given opportunities to occupy key national offices. Even as we disagree with her jurisprudence, we find her qualified to occupy the high office of Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana,” the statement noted.

According to the Minority, the image of the judiciary is not in a good shape because several opinion polls show that and expressed hope that Justice Gertrude as a Lady Chief Justice, will restore the dignity of the judiciary.

Source: Mensah