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10.10.2008 NDC News

We will ensure fair adminstration of justice - NDC

By myjoyonline

The opposition National Democratic Congress has promised an overhaul of the justice delivery system once voted into power in December.

In a clearly outlined 'back-to-the-castle' manifesto, the NDC said it would empanel all Supreme Court judges on all cases, a position distinct from the current practice of allowing the chief justice the right to appoint judges to sit on cases.

It has also promised to separate the position of the Attorney General from that of the Minister of Justice.

Alex Segbefia, a member of the Atta Mills campaign team, in an interview with Joy News' Kojo Oppong Nkrumah on the Super Morning show, said the policy initiative is to bring sanity in the judiciary and to ensure a fair administration of justice in the country.

But the move some legal practitioners say, smacks of direct executive interference in the activities of the judiciary, something Mr. Segbefia contests.

According to him, the initiative is rather to curb the unwarranted packing of the courts by the executive any time it lost a case in court.

Quoting the role of the Supreme Court which he said is to serve as an appellate body, give judicial interpretation, Mr. Segbefia reckoned the NDC will after consultations with the judiciary decide which cases to allow all judges to sit.

On how the NDC intends to implement the policies, he noted a referendum would be organised for Ghanaians to make their choice.

He maintained the perception of judicial bias would always remain irrespective of which government was in power.

But NDC's position has fiercely been contested.

Mr. Ace Ankumah, a legal luminary, said the policy to allow all judges to sit “is not well thought out.”

He said empaneling all judges on a case will not augur well for the court, especially when a case goes for a review.

Under the current statutes, two new judges are introduced to sit on a case, when it goes for a judicial review, if the prosecution or defendant is not satisfied with judgements at the Supreme Court.

If all the judges sit on a particular case, what becomes of a judicial review, Ace Ankumah quizzed?

He said the authority to appoint was only vested in the Chief Justice and any attempt by the NDC to empanel all judges on a case was nothing but a clear interference in the judiciary.

Story by Nathan Gadugah