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21 July 2016

GBA suit against Supreme Court judges’ appointment dismissed

Ghana-Supreme-Court-BuildingThe Supreme Court on Wednesday July 20, dismissed a suit filed by the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) challenging mode of appointment of two justices of the Supreme Court by President Mahama.

Today’s ruling also covered the suit by a Citi FM Journalist, Richard Sky , who also challenged the mode of appointment of the Electoral Commission chair Madam Charlotte Osei by the President.

According to the unanimous judgment of the seven member panel of justices, the President who has the sole power of appointment vested in him is not bound by the advice of any statutory body to appoint anyone.

The justices further stated that, the President’s appointment of Supreme Court justices and an Electoral Commission chair only becomes illegal if he fails to through required consultation and advice from the judicial council and the council of state.

In a 66-page writ of summons and statement of case by the GBA which sought to invoke the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the plaintiffs prayed the court to direct the Head of State to fully comply with Article 144 (2) and (3) of the 1992 Constitution which admonishes the President to appoint justices to the Supreme Court upon advice from the Judicial Council.

According to them, “Since the 1992 Constitution came into force, Presidents after Presidents have not acted fully on the advice tendered by the Judicial Council in the appointment of Superior Court judges.”

The suit was filed barely 24 hours after Mr. Justice Yaw Apau and Mr. Gabriel Pwamang were sworn in as justices of the Supreme Court by President John Dramani Mahama.

The plaintiffs prayed the court to declare that upon true and proper construction of Article 144 clauses (2) and (3) of the 1992 Constitution, all appointments made by the President of the Republic of Ghana to the Supreme Court were valid on the condition they were made in strict accordance with the advice of the Judicial Council.

Other reliefs sought included a declaration that upon true and proper interpretation of Article 144 (2) and (3) of the 1992 Constitution, a constitutional trust had been created in the Judicial Council to make nominations of the person(s) best qualified to serve as justices of the Superior Courts of Judicature and also that the Judicial Council was required to ensure that such nominations were actually submitted by the President to Parliament for approval after due consultations with the Council of State.

The GBA also asked the Supreme Court to rule that upon true and proper construction of the Article 144 clauses (2) and (3) of the 1992 Constitution, the Judicial Council had a constitutional obligation to specifically advice the President as to which specific person(s) is/are suitable for appointment to serve as Justice(s) of the Superior Courts of Judicature, in accordance with which advice the President is mandatorily required to exercise his powers of appointment.

Also, part of the reliefs which were being sought was for the Supreme Court to order that an appointment or non-appointment by the President of a Justice of the Superior Court, “in a manner out of accord with the advice of the Judicial Council, is unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect”.

clauses (2) and (3) of the 1992 Constitution, the Judicial Council had a constitutional obligation to specifically advise the President as to which specific person(s) is/are suitable for appointment to serve as Justice(s) of the Superior Courts of Judicature, in accordance with which advice the President is mandatorily required to exercise his powers of appointment

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