Accra, Sept. 29, GNA - As part of the 48th Legal Year activities of the judiciary, the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana (AMJG), on Thursday held its 26th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Accra, to deliberate on very important matters affecting members' welfare, in-service and out of service and take decisions accordingly.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr Justice George Kingsley Acquah, the Chief Justice, advised members of the bench to exhibit high professionalism in the performance of their duties.
He stressed that the judicial service was in a crises in respect of magistrates and judges and their ability to dispose of cases quickly and that the number of cases coming before the courts was increasing year in and year out.
According to him, a study of last year's annual report of the Service revealed that cases that were pending at the High Court as at October 1, 2003 were 10,876 civil and 383 criminal cases. He said from that date up to June 30, 2004, 11,050 civil and 853 criminal cases were filed, bringing the total number of cases pending before the High Court at the period to 21,926 civil and 1,236 criminal cases.
Out of these cases, he said, the High Court disposed of 6,832 civil and 546 criminal cases, which was less than half the number of pending cases.
The Chief Justice noted that the position in the district courts was worse. "For as at October, 2003 there were 16,902 civil and 19,407 criminal cases pending. By June 30, 2004, 42,129 civil and 40,556 criminal new cases were filed." Justice Acquah said this brought the total cases pending before the district courts between October 1, 2003 and June 30, 2004 to 59,031 civil cases and 59,963 criminal cases within the sane period", adding, "35,680 civil and 35,509 criminal cases were left pending as at June 30, 2004.
Mr Justice Acquah said the Court of Appeal was no exception. It began the period with 1,532 civil and criminal cases, 770 new cases were filed within the period, bringing the total number of cases before the Court of Appeal to 2,302 cases, while 903 cases were disposed of by the court, leaving as pending at the end of the period, 1,399 cases.
The Chief Justice referred to a petition purported to have come from some concerned magistrates alleging that the career magistrates were going to be supplied with cars and be paid higher salaries and said: "This was a mischievous petition calculated only to create confusion."
He pointed out to that, "based on the present salary levels, we cannot secure an 18,000 dollar car for any magistrate," asking "when can such a magistrate finish paying such a car loan."
He said if the judiciary succeeded in getting cars at reasonable prices, those interested would have the opportunity to apply for them. Mr Justice Acquah observed that in spite of the efforts by most of the members of the Bench to work hard, there were certain litigants who on realising that they had bad cases and were likely to lose, employed all sorts of dishonest means including " allegations" to delay their cases and cautioned that the practice should be stopped. Mr Justice Yaw Appau, a High Court Judge and President of the Association commended members for the success of the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association (CMJA) conference held in Ghana recently and expressed the hope that the meeting would address issues that would move the Association forward.
Eight retiring members were awarded prizes for their devoted services.