Pay Back Time? … Minority demands full judgement on Gyakye Quayson’s case before deciding the fate of CJ nominee

The Chief Justice-nominee, Justice Gertrude Araba Esaaba Sackey Torkonoo, says she should be assessed based on the number of work she had done throughout her legal career and not just one judgment.

“I have given hundreds of judgement from High Court till now, and I think that it would have been a really great relief to know that I am assessed on my work as a whole,” she said.

She indicated this to the Appointment Committee of Parliament when she appeared before it to be vetted for the position of Chief Justice last Friday. Her comment was in response to comments passed by the Minority Members on the Committee regarding the fate of her nomination.

Minority’s Decision

The minority members had announced that they would not conclude on whether or not Justice Torkonoo should be approved until they had laid hands on the ‘recent judgment’ of the Supreme Court, which ordered the striking out of the name of the Member of Parliament for Assin North,  Mr. James Gyakye Quayson, from the records of Parliament.

The caucus said they would reach a conclusion after they had read Justice Torkonoo’s reasons, which formed part of the unanimous decision of the panel that sat on the Gyake Quayson case.

“The Minority side of the house actually had reservations about participating in your vetting this morning. You took part in the decision of the court, which asked that the Member of Parliament for Assin North’s name be struck out of the records of Parliament. But you did not give a reasoned judgment as to why his name should be struck out.

“There is uncertainty among us as MPs knowing that our Supreme Court is also our constitutional court that should guide us as a country in terms of how we run public affairs.

“We would have thought that on matter that we were so decided as political parties, a matter that we were so divided from the very day it started.

“We have reached a negotiated decision that we will not vote on you today after the hearing and that when the Supreme court comes out with the reasoning, we will have another opportunity to access you based on quality of the reason of the court and then we can take a decision,” Mr. Mahama Ayariga, MP for Tamale Central, said.

Supreme Court’s Decision

It would be recalled that the Supreme Court, on May 17, unanimously declared as unconstitutional the election of James Gyakye Quayson as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin North in the Central Region. The seven-member panel ordered Parliament to expunge the name of Mr. Quayson as MP.

It was the considered view of the court that the election of Mr. Quayson breached Article 94(2) (a) of the 1992 Constitution, because at the time he filed to contest the election, he was not qualified to be elected as a legislator since he had not renounced his dual citizenship.

The court, therefore, declared Mr. Quayson’s filing to contest the EC’s decision to allow him to contest, as well as his swearing-in as MP in Parliament as unconstitutional, null and void.

However, the seven-member panel of the court, which was presided over by Justice Jones Dotse, with Justices Nene Amegatcher, Mariama Owusu, Gertrude Torkornoo, Prof Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, Emmanuel Yonny Kulendi and Barbara Ackah-Ayensu couldn’t give the reason behind their judgment.

They said the full reasons for its decision would be filed at the court’s registry by June 7. This was what informed the Minority caucus on the vetting committee’s position on the Chief Justice-nominee.

How the Supreme Court works

But Justice Torkonoo disagreed with the position of the Minority in deciding her fate. According to the nominee, the courts orders, rules and judgments were not the work of one judge, but that of all the judges who sit on a particular case and hence argued that the Minority could not tie their decision on her to the judgment of a seven-member panel in the Gyakye Quayson case.

She explained: “The Supreme Court is not a Supreme Court unless five people are sitting, and in constitutional matters we are seven. So seven people are working together, and that’s why very often, indeed, almost invariably in every judgment given by the Supreme Court the reason comes out long after the orders and the ruling, because that’s how we work. Everybody has to check the dots and the titles before you get the final script.

“We sit in conference over every decision. All these people will sit in conference and everybody will present their position, their evaluation, we will agree the orders, the conclusion, we will craft the orders and the rulings, we will share it and everybody will approve and then it will be written.

I have actually been on a panel where different judges wrote different part of the judgement. It was a very interesting experience. Sometimes one person will write it and sometimes two people.

“In this particular situation, we had concluded our orders and rulings and we gave that to the public and the judgement is currently a work in progress,” she said


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here