Supreme Court Judges Err In Judgement Delivery
The President of the Supreme Court Judges who dismissed a landmark Election Petition challenging the legitimacy of President John Mahama erred in delivering the judgement.
Justice William Atuguba in his landmark ruling yesterday named Justice Baffoe Bonney as one of the judges who dismissed the case of voting without biometric verification- one of the electoral irregularity cited by the Petitioners; he is also on record to have named the same judge as having upheld the voting without biometric verification irregularity.
A member of the legal team of the Petitioners, Godfred Dame noticed the anomaly in an interview with Joy News shortly after the ruling.
Joy News can confirm the Supreme Court has moved to correct the anomaly.
On the specific case of voting without biometric verification, the new ruling as secured by Joy News reads: “Atuguba Adinyira, Dotse, Gbadegbe and Akoto-Bamfo, JJSC dismiss the claim relating to voting without biometric verification.”
“…Baffoe-Bonnie JSC grants the claim of voting without biometric verification, cancels the votes involved and orders a rerun of the areas affected.”
With the correction, four of the judges have been deemed to have upheld the Petitioners’ claim of voting without biometric verification, bringing the decision to 5-4 in favour of the Respondents, instead of the 6-3 (in favour of the Respondents) earlier announced by the presiding Judge.
Godfred Dame told Joy News’ Evans Mensah, Friday, the change is curious and raises several legal issues.
He does not understand how the judges having announced the verdict in open court in the full glare of the public will now seek to amend the ruling in chambers. If anything, the judges ought to have reconvened in open court to make the correction formal.
He explained the rules of court stipulates that once a verdict has been given, the verdict becomes an order and takes effect almost immediately. The court cannot go back to amend the order in chambers, he averred.
Godfred Dame insisted the “contradiction” in the ruling is only a testimony of ruling handed in “haste.”
He is opened to education as to how a ruling read in public can be changed in chambers under circumstances he cannot immediately fathom. Was it the presiding judge alone who corrected it; was it all the nine judges; was it the registrar? he asked.
Whichever way, Dame is convinced the correction is “irregular.”
He cannot say what the Petitioners intends to do on the matter except to add that “we wait and see.”
A member of the legal team of the Respondents, Abraham Amaliba has played down the effect of the anomaly.
He said the 6-3 change to 5-4 on the case of voting without biometric verification still has the Respondents in the majority and does not have any material effect on the judgement.
In any case, he said the Respondents won in all the cases of irregularity presented by the Petitioners and even in some cases had a unanimous decision.
He said a decision taken by judges in chambers but read in open court can be corrected in chambers if an anomaly is identified.