SC quashes High Court’s order restraining #FixTheCountry Demo

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    The Supreme Court panel presided by Justice Yaw Appau, has today, June 8, 2021, quashed an order of the High Court, barring ‘FixTheCountry’ protestors from demonstrating.

    The court held that the high court order was in error.

    Other Justices on the panel were Mariama Owusu, Lovelace Johnson, Clemence Honyenuga, and Prof Henrietta Mensah Bonsu.

    In restraining the protestors, the High Court stated that they should only hit the street at a time that the appropriate authority lifts the Covid-19 restrictions on public gathering.

    The campaigners however insisted this order was unlawful because, under the High Court’s rules, injunctions granted without arguments by the affected persons (ex parte) ought to last for just 10 days.

    In court, today, Justice Sai,  lead counsel for the Campaigners urged the Supreme Court to speak on the matter. He insisted the order restrained his clients indefinitely.

    The AG however in disagreeing with the counsel for the campaigners;

    Described the case filed by the campaigners as misconceived and completely unwarranted. He explained that under the High Court rules, Ex Parte orders are to last for 10 days.

    In addition, the AG said the order granted on May 6, stopping the May 9, protest has since elapsed by the operation of law. He, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the case since no order is in force currently barring the protest.

    According to the AG, even before the expiration of the order, a fresh application for an injunction had been made by the IGP knowing well that the May 6 order was to last 10 days.

    Background

    On the 6th of May 2021, after receiving the 3rd of May 2021 notice of the conveners of the “Fix-The-Country” public demonstration of their intention, the Ghana Police Service obtained a High Court order signed by Justice Ruby Aryeetey, to restrain the conveners from embarking on same.

    According to the court order which was entitled ‘Order for Prohibition’ Pursuant to Section 1 (6) of the Public Order Act, 1994 (Act 491), the High Court said, “It is hereby ordered that the organizers/conveners of Fix-The-Country protest march, their associates, officers, agents, assigns and workmen are prohibited from embarking on any demonstration on Sunday 9th May 2021 or any other date until the restriction on public gathering is lifted by the appropriate authority.”

    The organizers and conveners of the ‘Fix-the-Country‘ protest march filed a suit at the Supreme Court, seeking an order of the apex court to quash the 6th of May High Court order, which restrained them from embarking on their planned protest march which was scheduled on Sunday 9th of May 2021.

    The protesters, per their suit, prayed the Supreme Court for an order to restrain the Ghana Police Service from what they described as “unlawful interference with their constitutional right to embark on a public demonstration.”

    The group’s affidavit indicated, “By failing, whether by omission or commission, to give us a hearing in a fair and reasonable manner, the honorable High Court has committed a grave error, which error is patent on the face of its judgment and order dated May 6, 2021”.

    The SC in its ruling noted that the rules of the High Court allow such Ex Parte injunctions to last only 10 days. It thus said the Judge erred. The court, therefore, proceeded to wish that portion of the order that barred the group indefinitely.

    Meanwhile, there is still pending another case at the High Court asking the protestors to be retrained from hitting the streets. It is due for a hearing on June 14.