Supreme Court rules paying salaries to First and Second Ladies unconstitutional

Supreme Court rules paying salaries to First and Second Ladies unconstitutional

Spouses of the President and the Vice-President are not public officers under Article (71) of the 1992 Constitution, and as such cannot be entitled to salaries and other benefits and privileges charged from the consolidated fund, the has ruled. 

Consequently, a seven-member panel of the Supreme Court, chaired by Chief Justice, Gertrude Sackey Torkornoo, has declared as unconstitutional 's approval to pay salaries to the First Lady and the Second Lady since they are not recognised under the 1992 Constitution to receive salaries.

It added that the work of the Emoluments Committee of Parliament is limited to recommending the salaries and other benefits and privileges of only public office holders. That was the apex court's position when it delivered judgments in two separate cases yesterday.

The first judgment of the day was in respect of the case filed by the Bono Regional Chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party (), Kwame Baffoe, aka Abronye DC, seeking reliefs.

The second one was jointly filed by the Members of Parliament (MPs) for South Dayi and constituencies, Dafeamekpor Rockson-Nelson and Dr Clement Abaasinat Apaak, respectively, and a citizen, Frederick Nii Commey, which sought eight reliefs.

The legal actions from recommendations made in June 2020 by the Professor Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu-led Committee appointed by the President under Article 71(1), which subsequently recommended the payment of salaries to the spouses of the President and Vice-President for parliamentary approval.

The mandate of the committee was to make recommendations in respect of the salaries, allowances payable, facilities and privileges of Article 71 officeholders under the 1992 Constitution.

Background 

Following the controversies that emerged from the recommendations, Mr Baffoe took the matter to the apex court, seeking four reliefs. Three out of the four reliefs were granted by the court, which had Justices Gabriel Pwamang, Avril Lovelace-Johnson, Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, Barbara Ackah-Yensu, Samuel Kwame Adibu Asiedu and Ernest Yao Gaewu on the panel.

It was his case that the approval by Parliament to pay salaries to the First and Second Ladies was inconsistent with Article 71(1) and (2) of the 1992 Constitution, praying the court to consequently declare it as null, void and unenforceable.

Again, he argued that per Article 71 (1) and (2); the positions of the First and Second Ladies of Ghana do not fall under the category of Public Office Holders. Additionally, he prayed the court to declare that per Article 71 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, the emoluments committee was limited to recommending the salaries and other benefits and privileges of only public office holders.

These arguments were upheld by the apex court.

However, his relief inviting the court to declare that per Articles 108 and 178 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, Parliament cannot, on its own accord, initiate or approve payment of any such emoluments, which would necessarily be paid from public funds without a bill to that effect emanating from and introduced by the government and duly passed into law, was not granted.

For Dafeamekpor and the two others, their relief praying the court to declare that upon a true and proper interpretation of the 1992 Constitution, spouses of the President and the Vice-President were not Article 71 office holders for the purposes of receipt of wages and emoluments, was granted by the court.

Their other reliefs, which were centred on the mandate and recommendation of the Prof. Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee, were not granted. The court said its reasoned judgment would be available by the close of day today.

A Deputy , Diana Asonaba Dapaah, represented the state, while Esinam Kporku and George Kodzo Adabadze represented Abronye DC and Mr Dafeamekpor respectively. 

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