The turf war between the Executive and the Legislative arms of government over the limits of each other’s powers seem to be rearing its ugly head, in the issue regarding the denial of admission to some 499 LLB students.
In a three-page letter addressed to the Speaker of Parliament, the Attorney General (AG) and Minister for Justice, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, indicated to parliament that its legislative power doesn’t include the control of admission processes of students into the Ghana Law School (GSL).
Mr Dame’s letter comes three days after Parliament had directed the General Legal Council (GLC), the body in charge of legal education in Ghana, to admit all 499 LLB students unfairly denied admission to the GSL in the 2021/2022 academic year.
Parliament also directed the AG, who superintends the GLC and the GSL as well to take immediate steps to implement the House’s directives to ensure fairness and transparency in determining the rules of the game.
The argument put forth by the legislative arm of government was that the 499 students had fifty per cent cumulatively and met the fifty per cent threshold and it is, therefore, unfair to deny them admission on the grounds that they could not score fifty per cent each in both sections A and B of the examination.
They criticised the GLC for what they termed, shifting the goal post, by applying a rule it set after the 2020/2021 Entrance Examination requiring candidates to pass 50% in each of the two Sections, A and B in the examination, a rule that did not exist prior to the examination.
In a response, the AG stated that Parliament cannot control the processes of admission into the Ghana Law School through Parliamentary resolution
Quoting portions of the Legal Professions Act, 1960 (Act 32), Mr Dame argued that the body that has the power to regulate the admission of students to pursue law is the General Legal Council and not the Parliament.
“…I am constrained to advise that Parliament is devoid of a power through the use of Parliamentary resolutions, to control the process of admission into the Ghana School of Law. The mode of exercising legislative power enshrined in Article 106 of the Constitution does not admit of resolutions.
“In accordance with section 13(1)(e) and (f) of the Legal Profession Act, 1960 (Act 32), the power to regulate admission of students to pursue courses of instruction leading to qualification as lawyers and to hold examinations, which may include preliminary, intermediate and final examinations has been vested in the General Legal Council.”
Another argument raised by the AG in the letter, which he copied the Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu was that section 1(5) of Act 32 also directs the GLC to perform any function given to it by the sector Minister, hence he has the power to direct and advise the GLC on major issues and not parliament.
He indicated that based on the provisions of section 1(5), the President had forwarded petitions he received from the 449 students and the National Association of Law Students to him (AG)and he is currently working to make the necessary intervention to the General Legal Council, on behalf of the 499 students.
On the 50% pass mark, the AG described parliament’s argument as erroneous, because the notice inviting Ghanaians to apply for admission into the GLS did not state any pass mark as a basis for admission.
“The notice in the Daily Graphic of 14th May, 2021 inviting applications from suitably qualified Ghanaians for admission into the Ghana School of Law did not state a pass mark of fifty percent (50%) or any at all as a basis for admission.
“The notice stated that applicants may be granted admission if they have passed the entrance examination conducted by the GLC… It is clear, therefore, that a contention that the ‘originally announced” or “advertised” pass mark was “50%”, is erroneous and insupportable.”