03.08.2004 General News

CJ Tells Judges Not to be Partisan

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Mr. Justice George Kingsley Acquah, Chief Justice (CJ), on Monday asked Judges not to allow their affection for any political party or individuals influence them in adjudicating electoral disputes.

"We must steer the middle course and deliver justice according to law. It is by living in accordance with our Judicial Oath and having sufficient command of electoral laws and handling electoral disputes with honesty, efficiency and speed that our roles as judges can promote the healthy development of our constitutional democracy."

Mr. Justice Acquah, who was opening a day's seminar for 68 High Court Judges on electoral laws in the country, decried the way and manner electoral disputes were handled at the courts and called on judges to be fair and ensure speedy trial of such cases.

The Chief Justice said under a constitutional democracy; elections were the mechanisms through which the will of the people was expressed in determining persons acceptable to them to take up the reigns of government.

He noted that the atmosphere for this year's elections was emotionally charged and asked the Judges to approach their roles in a way that would not inflame the already tensed situation.

"As Judges our role lies in the proper and honest adjudication of disputes arising out from the elections," the Chief Justice told the Judges.

The seminar sponsored by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the National Governance Programme is aimed at providing a platform that would consider the existing laws relating to the electoral processes.

It is also aimed at sensitising High Court Judges on their attitudes towards fair and expeditious disposal of electoral disputes in this year's election.

The CJ said: "The case of Isaac Amoo, which the court could not complete its hearing during the lifetime of the Parliament to which he was seeking admission is a sad commentary on the performance of the Courts.

"Isaac Amoo's case got stuck up on its way from the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court. The case could not be placed before the Supreme Court during the lifetime of Parliament. We should not allow such situations to occur any more."

He noted that the Supreme Court had held that Appeals in election petitions under Article 99 of the Constitution could not travel beyond the Court of Appeal and asked the Judges not to allow such a situation to happen again.

Mr Justice Acquah said one of the drawbacks affecting speedy disposal of cases in the courts was unreasonable indulgence of some Judges to requests for adjournments by Lawyers and litigants but urged them to proceed on cases "once Judges are satisfied that the parties have been fully served with hearing notices."

He said the public was concerned about the frequent adjournments and delays in adjudication of justice and called on them to assist to stem the trend.

The CJ commended Judges, who have been working hard, but said his office would deal with Judges who were lazy and incompetent.

"To this end I have started compiling a daily record of the time some Judges begin sitting and the time they close. I will compare this record with the Judge's output for the year.

And when one found it abysmal, the Judge would be put before the Judicial Council to explain his or her abysmal performance for the year.

He said it was unacceptable that some Judges for a whole year might not have tried any case nor written a single judgement yet they received their salaries and allowances.

"The Judicial Service under my administration has no room for corrupt, incompetent and lazy Judges.

I am, therefore, determined to pursue such a Judge in and outside the court room, expose him and deal with him," he said.

Participants are expected to discuss topics such as: "Ghana's Elections- Experiences and Problems"; "Ghana's Electoral Laws in Perspective and Electoral Disputes."

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