Home News Majority justifies CJ’s proposal for additional judges, criticizes NDC for political gimmick

Majority justifies CJ’s proposal for additional judges, criticizes NDC for political gimmick

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By Edzorna Francis Mensah

Majority in Parliament has jumped to the defence of the Chief Justice of the republic, Justice Gertrude Araba Esaaba Sackey Torkornoo for proposing additional judges to the Supreme Court of Ghana, criticizing the NDC for engaging in a political gimmick with the facts.

According to them, the CJ has the legal basis and properly clothed with the appropriate provisions under the 1992 Constitution of Ghana to do as suggested the Chief Justice’s motive for the proposal is aimed to expand the Supreme Court to 20 judges for efficiency and effectiveness for deliver quick-time judgement on both the political and the economical cases.

At the news conference held in parliament on Monday, July 2024 on topic: “Judiciary Reforms at The Apex Court”, to directly respond to the NDC, the Leader of Government business in Parliament, Alexander Kwamena Afenyo-Markin said the constitutionality of the CJs’ act is grounded in

Article 144(2) of the 1992 Constitution which states: “The President shall, acting on the advice of the Judicial Council, in consultation with the Council of State and with the approval of Parliament, appoint the other Justices of the Supreme Court”, back by Article 128(1) of the 1992 which stipulates that “The Supreme Court shall consist of the Chief Justice and not less than nine other Justices of the Supreme Court”, and that, while this provision sets a minimum, it deliberately refrains from imposing a maximum number. This flexibility was likely intended to allow our highest court to adapt to the evolving needs of our justice system”.

NDC recently has taken the NPP and the Government on delibetaly packing the Superior Court for political gains in response to a letter from the Chief Justice to the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo recommending some five justices to be considered for appointment to the Supreme Court of Ghana.

But the Leader stressed the point that; the said letter is not conclusive of what Article 144(2) of the constitution of the Republic of Ghana provides in the appointment of justices of the Supreme Court of Ghana, however, he was quick to add that “it is important to note that the President has consulted various stakeholders on this proposal. The Ghana Bar Association has expressed its support in principle”.

He further submitted that the President has also engaged the Attorney General for his counsel and “there is a need to engage further with legal scholars, civil society organizations, and international partners with experience in judicial reform. Their insights, if sought or offered and obtained, would be valuable in shaping the way forward”.

“I want to emphasize, and indeed fiercely argue, that while the Chief Justice’s recommendation to appoint five additional justices may seem to depart from established convention, it does not, in itself, constitute a breach of law. The Constitution does not explicitly prohibit the Chief Justice from making such recommendations. Moreover, this recommendation is precisely that – a recommendation. It is neither binding on the President nor does it circumvent the constitutional appointment process”.

However, Alexander Kwamena Afenyo-Markin noted that, the President is not bound by the Chief Justice’s recommendation and retains the discretion to act or not act on this advice. Even if the President chooses to consider these recommendations, he is constitutionally obligated to involve the Judicial Council, consult with the Council of State, and ultimately seek the approval of Parliament. Each of these bodies – the Judicial Council, the Council of State, and Parliament – has the authority to scrutinize, question, and even reject these recommendations if they deem it necessary.

“The constitutional checks and balances remain firmly in place. The recommendation from the Chief Justice does not and cannot bypass these crucial safeguards”, he added.

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