The Human Rights Court division of the Accra High Court has ordered the Electoral Commission to furnish the Member of Parliament for Ashaiman, with the procurement information requested by the legislator.
The Electoral Commission has been given a 30-day ultimatum to submit the requested information to the Court’s Registry.
The court presided over by Justice Gifty Adjei Addo, on Tuesday, gave the judgement in favour of the Ernest Norgbey.
But with a caveat. The NDC legislator, in turn, is to pay a stipulated fee of GH₵1,500 to the national treasury through the Judicial Service account before the information can be granted.
In the case that was a litmus test for the Right to Information Law passed last year, the court said, “Every person has the right to information, the right is virtually boundless. The inaction of Parliament should not prevent the realisation of constitutional rights of a person.”
“It is the plea that this court will give the applicant 30 days from the judgement, make a payment of GH₵1,500 in order to get the information requested for relief 9,” the judge said.
The court held that one of the cardinal fundamental rights is the right to information and hence the NDC legislator is within his right to request for the information.
Again, the court was of the view that Parliament’s failure to enact legislation on the appropriate fees one needs to pay for information under Act 989 cannot be a basis for denying the MP’s constitutional right to information.
Reliefs that was granted by the court include:
1. Whether the EC procured the services of Dr Ofori-Adjei, an IT consultant and Mr A. Akrofi, a procurement consultant.
a. If the answer is yes then the EC should confirm whether the procurement was in accordance with part VI of the public procurement Act, 2003. (Act 663) as amended.
b. And if yes, the EC, should furnish him with a copy of the record of procurement proceedings for the services of the said consultant as required by section 28 of the public procurement Act 2003 (668) as amended.
Background of the case
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament, Ernest Norgbey, in March, this year, filed a suit demanding the Electoral Commission to make available information on the equipment to be used for the registration exercise.
But the EC refused to honour his request on providing the information on the new BVMS.
The NDC legislator was seeking a declaration that the commission’s refusal to furnish him with the information was a violation of his right to information.
He argued that even before the passage of the Right to Information Act, the court had allowed citizens of Ghana to access information from public institutions subject to reasonable fees.
Ernest Norgbey wanted the court to enforce his rights under Article 21 of the constitution by ordering the EC to furnish him with the information.
The legislator’s suit comes after the commission, in December, last year, announced its intention to acquire a new biometric voter management system (BVMS).
The commission argued that it is important to upgrade the efficiency, trust and credibility of the 2020 elections and the country’s electoral process in general.
“As ready and willing as our client (EC) is to provide the information requested by your client, it is not immediately able to do so because the fees and charges applicable are yet to be determined in accordance with law,” lawyers for the EC said in a reply.
Following the EC’s response, Mr Norgbey marched to the High Court with the case that the action by the commission was a violation of his fundamental human rights to information.
The NDC legislator’s response after court’s judgement
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