The Supreme Court, on Thursday, 28th January, 2021 has dismissed an application of the Petitioner’s lawyers to review the Court’s ruling on previous proceedings. After a long recess, the Court returned and delivered a unanimous ruling of 9-0 dismissing the application.
The hearing started at exactly 9:30 where all parties and their Counsel were present in Court. After announcing themselves, Counsel for petitioner prayed the Court to withdraw their motion to temporarily suspend hearing (stay of proceedings) since it was no longer relevant in the light of matters that happened at the last court hearing. Counsel for 1st Respondent also applied to the Court to withdraw his motion for abridgement of time (shorten the period of hearing of the Review) which was also granted.
The Court then recessed for the two more judges to be added to hear Petitioner’s application for leave to file a supplant statement of case, add additional ground and amend a paragraph in their motion to for review.
MOTION FOR LEAVE
When the Court returned, Justice Amadu Tanko and Justice Mensah-Bonsu were added to the seven (7) member panel.
Counsel for the Petitioner prayed the Court for leave to file a supplant statement of case and add an additional ground as well as amend paragraph 28 of their original statement.
Counsel submitted that there were no specific rules in the rules of the Supreme Court governing the filing of supplementary statement of case and he was therefore applying under the inherent power of the Court. He submitted and cited some cases from civil appeals where the Court has allowed supplementary written submissions and argued that there has been a certain consistency regarding the Court allowing the filing of supplementary statements. He also cited one case in relation to review.
The Court however drew Counsel’s attention to a provision in the Supreme Court rules which allowed a party to apply to amend a part of his statement of case in appeals but the same provision was not repeated under review applications. Counsel however continued to submit that the absence does not necessarily bar the Court and that it had been a consistent practice. One of the Justices sought to find out whether Counsel for Petitioner was requiring on them to grant it merely because it has been the practice or it is based on some rule of Court.
Counsel for Respondents both opposed the application on grounds of law. They argued that the review jurisdiction is a special jurisdiction unlike an appeal and it is for good reason that provisions made for appeals are not replicated in a review application. Counsel for 2nd Respondent drew the Court’s attention to instances such as extension of time to apply for an appeal but a no extension of time in a review and urged the Court to refuse the application as same was not warranted by the rules governing reviews.
After a long recess, the Court returned and delivered a unanimous ruling of 9-0 dismissing the application. The Court held that it notes that the cases cited by Counsel for petitioner were in relation to appeals and the one in review had an issue of personal liberty involved hence the considerations were different from regular reviews.The Court noted that appeals were conceptually different from a review and its review jurisdiction was a special one hence to grant the application for leave to amend was to expand the scope of its review powers which is not proper. The Court concluded that its inherent jurisdiction cannot be invoked in applications when the rules of Court have made a specific provision.
MOTION FOR REVIEW
The nine member panel proceeded to hear the review application itself.
Counsel for Petitioner in a long submission argued that the ruling of the Court that Order 22 of C.I.47 on interrogatories was inapplicable in light of C.I.99 was in error and that had occasioned a miscarriage of justice. Counsel listed a long line of cases and relied heavily on one Supreme Court case. He submitted that by the decision the Court had impliedly repealed the right to interrogatories in C.I.99 and that act was a fundamental error. He further argued on wrongful exercise of discretion and implied repeal of right to interrogatories.
A Justice of the Court at some point, drew Counsel’s attention to the fact that no where in the ruling of the court was it stated that it had impliedly repealed the right to interrogatories . Counsel relied on the case of Bernard Mornah but Justice Mensah-Bonsu quizzed him on the comparison being drawn between that case and present since that related to the repeal of a constitutional right by a constitutional instrument which did not exist presently.
Counsel for Respondents opposed the review and submitted that the Petitioner was only rehashing his case and has not demonstrated any exceptional circumstance warranting a review. Counsel for 1st Respondent relied on the case of Mechanical Lloyd and said the application was an emotional response to the Petitioner losing the earlier application for leave to serve interrogatories.
Counsel for 2nd Respondent incisively Responded to the review application by pointing out that the Court made a factual determination of the application and the attempt to take just a part of the ruling while neglecting the others was an impermissible gloss which the court should not allow.
Counsel further submitted that the Petitioner had failed to demonstrate the relevancy of the questions they intended to raise and also that the Court said it related to matters which were not in controversy. Counsel further submitted that every application for interrogatories is considered on its own merits and any attempt to create the impression that all applications for interrogatories must be treated the same was a misconception.
He finally submitted that reference to the application to the interrogatories in the 2013 petition was also misplaced as C.I.99 was not in place at the time.
The Court recessed and again delivered a 9-0 unanimous decision dismissing the review. The Court noted that the Petitioner had failed to satisfy the Court of any of the conditions warranting the grant of the review under rule 54(A) of C.I. 16. Consequently, the application was dismissed.
The 7 member panel returned and adjourned the case to Friday, 29th January, 2021 for hearing to commence.