The law says “Where a police officer notified of a special event under subsection (1) has reasonable grounds to believe that the special event if held may lead to violence or endanger public defence, public order, public safety, public health or the running of essential services or violate the rights and freedoms of other persons, he may request the organisers to postpone the special event to any other date or to the relocate the special event.”
It adds that, “Where the organisers refuse to comply with the request under subsection (4) or fail to notify the police officer in accordance with subsection (5), the police officer may apply to any justice or a chairman of a Tribunal for an order to prohibit the holding of the special event on the proposed date or at the proposed location.”
This is the provision the police often relies on to injunct demonstrations especially when such intended protests have political connotations.
But the High Court in a landmark ruling, said the Circuit Court cannot hear and grant a motion to stop any citizen from exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom of assembly and expression or protest.
It said the law requires police officers to go before a justice or chairman of a tribunal but judges of the Circuit Court are not justices and, therefore, lack jurisdiction to preside over a matter bordering on the enforcement of this provision.
In the said case, the plaintiffs were partners in the firm of Messrs. Shalabi Transport Service, Accra, registered under the Incorporated Private Partnerships Act, 1962 (Act 152), registered No. P. 208.
The first plaintiff was born in the then Gold Coast on 30 September 1933 and the second plaintiff on 13 September 1935.
Their parents were Lebanese. By reason of their birth in the Gold Coast, the plaintiffs were British subjects. The foregoing facts are admitted by the defence.