Creation of electoral areas Local Gov Minister acted unconstitutionally
By Ivy Benson
The Supreme Court (SC) yesterday unanimously declared the authority of the Local Government Minister under L.I.1983 to create electoral areas, as unlawful and unconstitutional.
The court, presided over by Justice William Atuguba, emphasized that the authority is given solely to the Electoral Commission (EC) and it is their responsibility under the Constitution to create electoral areas in the country.
The decision of the court followed a challenged thrown against C.I. 78 and L.I. 1983 of 2010, which created the new 45 Constituencies and electoral areas respectively, as the applicant, James Armah Amartey, is seeking the court to declare the Instruments unconstitutional and unlawful.
The rest of the panel members are Justices Date-Baah, Julius Ansah, Rose Owusu, Anin-Yeboah, Sule Gbadegbe and Vida Akoto-Bamfo.
Mr. Amartey has filed a suit at the SC, invoking its interpretative powers in determining the laws giving powers to the Minister of Local Government to create additional district, which gave the leeway to the EC to create 45 new Constituencies.
Meanwhile, the court had declared as lawful and Constitutional the same L.I. 1983 that gives authority to the Local Government Minister, under the constitution, to create District Assemblies throughout the country, as well as the C.I. 78 that mandated the EC to create additional 45 constituencies.
Reading the judgment, Justice Rose Owusu noted that plaintiff’s inference linking up the two instruments -L.I 1983 and C.I. 78 is untenable, adding that plaintiff’s action of impugning the entire Legislative Instrument (L.I.) is misconceived, since it also deals with the creation of District Assemblies.
Plaintiff counsel, Mr. Ayikoi Otoo, had argued that L.I. 1983 of 2010 provided the Local Government Minister room to create some electoral areas against the dictate and spirit of Article 45(b) of the 1992 Constitution.
According to counsel, L.I. 1983 of 2010, which created new districts after being laid before Parliament by the Minister of Local Government and through which the new constituencies were created, should be declared an absolute nullity.
It was further the view of the plaintiff that the outcome of the December 7 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections would be rendered invalid if L.I. 1983 of 2010 was not declared a nullity and deleted.
Plaintiff noted that Article 45 (b) of the 1992 gives the EC the mandate to demarcate electoral boundaries for both national and local government elections and therefore the EC’s function had been usurped by the Minister of Local Government.
However, Counsel for the EC, Mr. James Quarshie-Idun, who is party to the case, had argued that the C.I. 78 stands on its own and does not rely on the C.I. 1983 of 2010.
However, he conceded to the arguments made by the plaintiff that the Local Government Minister acted unconstitutionally, when he created electoral areas under L.I. 1983.
On the part of the Attorney General, Principal State Attorney, Mr. Sylvester Williams noted that the C.I. 78 is a valid law passed by Parliament that would be governed by the 2012 elections.
According to him, the C.I. 78 was initiated by the EC, while the L.1. 1983 was initiated by the Local Government minister, adding that the two legislations were made for separate purposes.
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