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15.03.2007 General News

Staking CHRAJ’S Intergrity

The decision of an Accra Fast Track High Court to overturn a ruling by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice against the former Transportation Minister, Dr Richard Anane, has stirred debate as to the weight behind the power and authority of the CHRAJ.

In much the same way that the ruling of CHRAJ that Dr Anane was guilty of abuse of public office and conflict of interest and was thus not qualified to hold public office as a Minister of State brought into the open different viewpoints and opinions, so also has the court's decision.

As usual, a wide range of interpretations and innuendoes have been made as to whether the CHRAJ was properly clothed with jurisdiction in the matter or that there is a deliberate attempt to whittle down the power and authority of the commission.

Unfortunately, the acting Commissioner of CHRAJ has been drawn into the debate, which appears more populist than legalistic.

But, whether the CHRAJ ruling or the court's decision better represents the law is a matter for the courts. The fact, however, remains that under the law, the CHRAJ is seen as an inferior body while the court is a “superior court of judicature”.

The sum effect is that for now, until the Court of Appeal, which the CHRAJ has intimated that it would go to for redress, determines the matter, the decision of the High Court holds sway over the ruling of CHRAJ.

That is why the acting Commissioner of CHRAJ must stay clear from the public debate. If care is not taken, the integrity of CHRAJ could be impugned.

For, once the acting commissioner acts outside the confines of the CHRAJ and enters into public debate through radio, uncloistered by any authority or immunity provided by law, that could be a slippery ground.

This is so because, an interviewer may ask an open-ended question that could lead the acting commissioner to cast a slur on the integrity of the High Court and the judge who overturned the ruling.

The judge cannot join the fray on radio to either defend or rationalise his decision. That then puts the court at a disadvantage.

That is why we would suggest that Ms Anna Bossman should politely decline any interviews by the media on the basis that since CHRAJ has decided to appeal, any comments could be prejudicial to the substantive appeal.

For now, we would want to congratulate Dr Richard Anane on redeeming his image, honour and integrity. Good name, it is always said, is better than riches.