ON THE EROSION OF CONFIDENCE IN OUR JUDICIARY: A Critical Approach.
First, I have to read Raymond Atuguba’s research on the Supreme Court. But already, I’m uncomfortable with how people easily cite that as a basis for castigating judges. And I can easily point some logical inaccuracies in those arguments. I’m not even sure that is how the legal scholar would wish his research to be interpreted.
For a start, correlation in research doesn’t necessarily equate to cause and effect. That, judges appointed by particular presidents vote in a certain way doesn’t necessarily means they did so to please the appointing authority. And my clear memory of the Supreme Court in the Fourth Republic does not support the view that, judges always vote according to the interests of those who appointed them.
I never knew for instance, that the immediate past Chief Justice, was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Rawlings, until she revealed it in her farewell speech. That a judge appointed to the Supreme Court by the NDC could become a Chief Justice under the NPP clearly shows that, the argument of judges serving appointing authorities cannot be taken without scrutiny. And there are many examples to this effect.
Recently, during a ruling of the Supreme Court on Mahama’s right to grant pardons, Sophia Akufo, was among the seven judges that voted in a 7-2 verdict that upheld Mahama’s rights. Even more tellingly, Rawlings ruled Ghana for close to twenty years, during which time he had the chance more than anyone else, to appoint judges to the courts. If judges were voting solely according to the dictates of appointing presidents, then Rawlings would have had a field day at the Supreme Court. History shows this clearly wasn’t the case. Rawlings lost several high profile cases at the court, including the cancellation of the 31st December holiday. Indeed our Supreme Court in the past, had been a bastion for the defence of rule of law.
In any case, If we hold on to this argument, then we would eventually erode every kind of confidence in the Supreme Court. For are we arguing that God should come down from heaven to appoint judges for us? Like any other court in any democracy, Supreme Court judges would always be appointed by someone, and that should not form the basis for discrediting them. Such an approach is illogical and even immoral.
That however is not to say that, we should not subject our courts to scrutiny. As human institutions like any other, more so, one that superintends over the priceless ingredient of justice, we cannot hypocritically make gods of our judges, just because we presume that their verdicts benefit us. Except we should do so with clear historical evidence and sound logic.
Why then does it appear to be zero confidence in the ability of our justice system to deliver justice to all manner of people? This is what I would attempt to answer the second part of this piece, later in the day.
By: Prosper Senyo (AfricanDigest.News Contributor)