Chief Justice Kwasi Aning-Yeboah is urging judges not be pedantic in their interpretation of the Constitution and other laws of the country.
Speaking through a Justice of the Court of Appeal Sir Dennis Adjei, the Chief Justice advised judges to be open minded and not stick to technicalities.
“The celebration of Akoto Memorial Series is to remind the courts not be pedantic in dealing with the Constitution and any application or interpretation of the Constitution which will impede it’s growth must be avoided.”
He spoke at the Re Akoto Memorial Lectures annually held by the Ghana School of Law in the memory of Baffuor Osei Akoto, an Asante linguist who challenged a decision by the then Nkrumah government to use the Preventive Detention Act to detain some Ghanaians.
When the decision was challenged, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the government, a judgement that has been widely criticized since it was rendered, with the critics arguing that court was overly technical and gave the Kwame Nkrumah government unfettered power to abuse the rights of Ghanaians.
The theme for this year’s commemoration was: “The legacy of Baffour Osei Akoto: A family man, a chief and a statesman.”
On November, 11 1959, Baffour Akoto and seven others were arrested and summarily detained without trial under the Preventive Detention Act( PDA) which had been enacted by the then Nkrumah government.
Their lawyer Dr J.B. Danquah, filed an application for habeas corpus at the High Court for the release of the eight persons to enable them to stand trial at the court but the court refused the application on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction.
Not satisfied, Dr Danquah,who later also became a victim of the PDA, proceeded to the Supreme Court, invoking the apex court’s original jurisdiction for interpretation of Article 13(1) of the 1960 Constitution, which, among other things, provided that on assuming office, the President shall make a declaration that he will ensure the safety and security of all persons in Ghana without discrimination.
Chief Justice Justice Arku Korsah reading a unanimous judgment of the court on the application said, “the Preventive Detention Act, 1958, is not contrary to the Constitution and Parliament is competent to pass such an act even in peacetime.”
The ruling has been criticised widely for giving too much power to Kwame Nkrumah to flagrantly abuse the rights of Ghanaians.