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High Court dismisses “Supreme Court Article 19 Interpretation” motion by James Quayson

Lawyers of Mr Quayson argued that their client is likely not to be treated fairly if the Supreme Court does not interpret Article 19

Criminal High Court presided over by Justice Mary Maame Ekue Yanzuh, has dismissed an application filed by lawyers of Assin North member of Parliament, James Gyakye Quayson, in which he was praying the court to stay proceedings and refer Article 19 (1) of the 1992 constitution to the Supreme Court for interpretation based on the provisions of Article 130 (2) of the same constitution.

The motion

Justin Pwavra Teriwajah, lawyer for James Quayson when the court constituted on Wednesday 26 July 2023, moved a motion in which he contends that his client has not been given all the necessary documents he is entitled to following the orders of the court for the state to disclose all documents they intend to rely on for the trial.

He added that to the best of his understanding and knowledge, the state is still keeping documents that relate to his client’s case in breach of the directs of the court for full disclosure and they believe that there is the need for Article 19 (1) to be interpretated by the Supreme Court in the interest of fair trial which his client is entitled to.

AG’s Contention

The Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame in opposing the application said in open court that the latest application by lawyers of the accused person (James Gyakye Quayson), is one of their time-wasting antiques and same should be dismissed totally.

He argued that Article 19 (1) is a clear provision in the 1992 constitution and no rival meaning has been given to it by any of the parties in the ongoing trial that warrants Article 130 (1 and 2) to be activated in the ongoing trial.

By Court

The court after listening to the arguments of both sides held that in the ongoing trial, no issue has arisen that should warrant a stay of proceedings for the specific provision of Article 19 (1) of the 1992 constitution which states that; “a person charged with a criminal offence shall be given a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court,” to be referred to the Supreme Court for interpretation.

In her ruling, the trial judge also noted that Article 130 (1 and 2) of the 1992 constitution which states; (1) “Subject to the jurisdiction of the High Court in the enforcement of the Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms as provided in article 33 of this Constitution, the Supreme Court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction in –

(a) all matters relating to the enforcement or interpretation of this Constitution; and

(b) all matters arising as to whether an enactment was made in excess of the powers conferred on Parliament or any other authority or person by law or under this Constitution.

(2) Where an issue that relates to a matter or question referred to in clause one (1) of this article arises in any proceedings in a court other than the Supreme Court, that court shall stay the proceedings and refer the question of law involved to the Supreme Court for determination; and the court in which the question arose shall dispose of the case in accordance with the decision of the Supreme Court,” has not been triggered to require a stay of proceedings and a referral to the Supreme Court for interpretation.


After the ruling of the court, it ordered the first prosecution witness to be called into the box for lawyers of James Quayson to continue with their cross examination.

Justin Pwavra Teriwajah who was in court representing James Quayson informed the court that he was unable to continue with the cross examination of the witness (Richard Takyi-Mensah) since it was his senior, Tsatsu Tsikata who has been conducting the cross examination but he was unable to attend court.

The court after standing the case down for ten (10) minutes at the request of lawyer Justin Pwavra Teriwajah, resumed to adjourn sitting to Friday 28 July 2023 for the continuation of the cross examination of the first prosecution witness.

Reporting by Wilberforce Asare in Accra

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