A seven-member Supreme Court panel presided over by Justice Sophia Ophelia Adjeibea Adinyira has by a unanimous decision declared as unconstitutional, null and void, the provision of Paragraph 2(8) of the first schedule of the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915).

It prohibits a person, including juveniles, from filing a case in court unless that person quotes the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) provided by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), as unconstitutional and consequently null, void and unenforceable.

The Centre for Juvenile Delinquency in 2018 instituted the action invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the law in the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915).

In the statement of case, they sought nine (9) reliefs. Amongst them are: “A declaration that Paragraph 2 (8) of the First Schedule of the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915), which prohibits a person from filling a case in court unless that person quotes the Taxpayer Identification Number issued in respect of that person under the
Taxpayer ldentification Number System by the 1st Defendant (GRA), is inconsistent with and in contravention of Articles 2(1), 33(), 48(2), 130(1), 132, 133(1), 135, 137(1), 140, 273(1), 273(5) and 280 of the 1992 Constitution which guarantee a person’s rigit of access to court hence consequently null, void and unenforceable”.

Additionally, they also sought “a declaration that Paragraph 2(8) of the First Schedule of the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915) which prohibits a person including a juvenile under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2003 (Act 653), from conducting any official business with the court unless that person quotes the Taxpayer Identification Number issued in respect of that person under the Taxpayer ldentification Number Siystem by the 1st Defendant (GRA) is overboard, and inconsistent with and in contravention of
Articles 2(1), 33(1), 130(1), 132, 133(1), 135, 137(1) and 140 of the 1992 Constitution which guarantee the right of a person, including a juvenile, havng access to court, and is consequently null, void and unenforceable.”

They also were seeking a further declaration that Paragraphs 2(9) and 1(9) of the First Schedule of the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915) which prohibit a person, including a juvenile under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2003 (Act 653), from filing a case in court unless that person quotes the Taxpayer ldentification Nunmber issued in respect of that person under the Taxpayer ldentification Number System by the 1st Defendant (GRA) is “overboard and inconsistent with and in contravention of Articles 2(1), 33(1),130(), 132, 133(1), 135, 137(1) and 140 of the 1992 Constitution which guarantee the right of a person, including a juvenile, of access to court, and is consequently null, void and unenforceable.”

The final relief was an “order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants, their agents or servants or assigns or judicial office under the pretext of acting under Paragraph 2(8), 2(9) and 1(9) of the first Schedule of the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915) from doing anything to precent any person(s) from filing process in any court in Ghana on
grounds that the person did not quote his/her Taxpayer ldentification Number issued under the Taxpayer ldentification Number System of the 1st Defendant (GRA)”.

It was the case of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) that the provisions of the law in the Revenue Administration Act 2016 (Act 915) was consistent with the 1992 Constitution as it will ensure that government secures its revenue collection mandate and that the requirement before one can file a case in court is not a clog and fetter on the constitutional rights of any person.

However, the Supreme Court in its judgement read by Justice Sophia Ophilia Adjeibea Adinyira as a valedictory judgement, indicated that they have concluded that Paragraph 2(8), 2(9) and 1(9) of the first schedule of the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915), are absolutely inconsistent with the 1992 Constitution and has the potential to restrain the citizenry including juveniles from accessing the courts of the country. The Court subsequently declared the provisions null, void and of no effect.

Source: Kasapafmonline.com/Wilberforce Asare