The Supreme Court has in a unanimous decision ruled that the maximum 48-hour power the police has to detain an arrested person in state custody without being granted bail or extension includes weekends, public holidays and periods of civil unrest.
The decision made by Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, Justice Sule Gbadegbe, Justice Alfred Benin and Justice Nii Ashie Kotei is to take effect in six months’ time.
The judges further asked the judicial secretary to within six months make arrangements for overtime pay for officers of the courts, especially District courts, who will work on weekends, holidays for this purpose
The seven member panel consequently directed the Chief Justice, the Inspector General of Police, Registrars of the various Courts to ensure that the ruling of the Court is brought to the attention of all interested parties to ensure its enforcement.
The decision follows an application by private legal practitioner, Matin Kpebu invoking the original Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court for an interpretation of article 14 clause 3 of the 1992 Constitution which states 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 in his suit sort eight (8) reliefs from the Supreme Court. Amongst them was “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)”.