The Supreme Court has ruled that weekends and holidays should be counted as part of the 48-hour maximum detention period an arrested person has to stay in custody before granted bail or arraigned before court, ABC News can report.
This means that it will be illegal for an arrested person to be detained in state custody for more than 48 hours regardless the individual being arrested on a public holiday or weekend.
The Court, presided over by the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia Akuffo also declared that courts are supposed to sit on holidays and weekends to handle cases brought before them in the interest of the rights and freedom of the people.
Other members on the panel were the Chief Justice nominee, Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, Justice Nii Ashie Kotei, Justice Sule Gbadegbe, Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, Justice Alfred Benin and Justice Julius Ansah.
The unanimous decision by the seven-member panel has been scheduled to take effect in six months’ time.
This is to give ample time to the Inspector General of Police, Registrars of the various Courts and other interested parties to bring their members up to speed with the judgment to ensure that it is enforced across board.
The court also charged the Judicial Secretary to, within the same six months, make overtime remuneration arrangements for officers of the courts who will either work on weekends or holidays.
The Supreme Court’s ruling follows an application filed by a private legal practitioner, Mr Martin Kpebu in September 2016 requesting parts of the Holidays Act which do not permit courts to sit on such days should be declared unconstitutional as well as an interpretation of Article 14 (3) of the 1992 Constitution.
The law stipulates that “a person who is arrested, restricted or detained (a) for the purpose of bringing him before a court in execution of an order of a court; or (b) upon reasonable suspicion of his having committed or being about to commit a criminal offence under the laws of Ghana, and who is not released, shall be brought before a court within forty-eight hours after the arrest, restriction or detention.”
Mr Kpebu wanted “a declaration that on a true and proper interpretation of Article 14(3) of the Constitution (1992) a Saturday, a Sunday, a public holiday, anytime during a civil unrest and any other day that the courts in Ghana cannot sit (e.g. during strike by judicial service staff or during a strike by any other stakeholder that will prevent the court from sitting) would be counted in reckoning the 48 hours within which a person arrested or detained on suspicion of committing a crime and not released must be brought before a court under article 14 (3) of the Constitution of Ghana (1992)”.