The Chief Justice Mr. Justice George Kingsley Acquah has said there is no rule that an accused person who has been granted bail should pay any fee before signing a bail bond either at Police Station or Court.
He said it was illegal, unauthorized and indeed not permissible that if a court grants bail, somebody tells the accused to pay money before signing the bail bond.
The Chief Justice further explained that at the end of a case, if one is not satisfied with the judgment passed and wants to appeal, lodging notice of appeal also does not attract a fee. He said the only thing a criminal pays was when the court imposes a fine.
Justice Acquah said those are some of the information the public ought to know in order not to be cheated, saying, "people talk of expensive administration of justice but it is not so". He said this during an interaction with a cross-section of the public at Tarkwa on Friday.
Dubbed Chief Justice's Outreach Programme, the meeting forms part of a strategy by the Judiciary to actively engage the citizenry to discuss and assess the challenges facing the administration of Justice at the local level.
It was under the theme: "Administration of Justice at the local level".
The Chief Justice said one report, which was found throughout Ghana, was the exorbitant fees that litigants have to pay to the courts, saying, " One of the important ingredients of access to court was ability to pay for the charges".
Justice Acquah said in order to assist the judiciary and the public in respect of how much to pay at court, a brochure, titled: "Schedule of fees and examples of assessed fees at the District Court" has been published, adding, "we are doing our duty by giving the people the relevant information and it was up to the people to insist on their right".
Touching on the administration of justice in relation to the District Assemblies, he said, though district Assembly concept decentralises certain institutions, Judiciary is not and in spite of this difference; the District Assembly has a role to play by ensuring access to court in the district for the promotion of justice.
The Chief Justice disclosed that in October this year two new magistrates would be added to the first one because Tarkwa was growing in size and in population and the assembly has to help in the provision of accommodation.
He said in July 2004 - June 2005, 451 civil cases and 168 criminal cases were pending. In the same year, 560 new civil cases and 405 criminal cases were filed at Tarkwa District Court. And at the end of the year, 581 civil and 352 criminal cases were left pending. Justice Acquah said there was the need to put measures in place to control the flow of cases in order not to cause delay in the administration of justice.
He said in the Children's Act, there is a responsibility on every District to set up a Child Panel to mediate on minor cases both in civil and criminal, which would in turn assist the courts in the administration of justice.
The Chief Justice said the J udiciary was prepared in training those who constitute the panel and how they could relate and work first with the Family Tribunals and secondly with the Juvenile Courts. In this way, he said the young ones who involve themselves in criminal activities would reduce saying, "we should take the issue of Child Panel very serious, if we want the children to take over from us in future".
In a welcoming address, Mr Emmanuel Kwasi Ayensu, Wassa West District Chief Executive, called for speedy disposal of cases at court. Osagyefo Kwamina Enimil VI, Paramount Chief, Wassa Fiase Traditional Area, commended the move by the Chief Justice and requested for the periodic meeting with the grassroots for the people to be enlightened on the basic information about law. Issues addressed included injustices in court, delay of cases at court, police collecting debts, payment of allowances to juvenile courts and Alternative Dispute Resolutions.