Majority endorses Chief Justice’s recommendation of five Judges appointment to Supreme Court

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Parliamentary Majority has endorsed the decision of Chief Justice Gertrude Araba Esaaba Sackey Torkornoo to recommend five Judges to the President for appointment to the Supreme Court.

Mr Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin, the Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business in Parliament, speaking at a press conference at Parliament House in Accra, said the Chief Justice had mooted a proposal to expand the Supreme Court to 20 judges for efficiency and effectiveness.

This was contained in a recent letter from the Chief Justice to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo recommending some five justices to be considered for appointment to the Supreme Court of Ghana.

‘I must emphasize that, the letter is not conclusive of what Article 144(2) of the constitution of the Republic of Ghana provides in the appointment of justices of the Supreme Court of Ghana,’ he stated.

‘I understand that the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) was consulted on the expansion proposal, and they agree in princip
le. I also understand that others have also been consulted.’

This, he said, had triggered varying opposing views from the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Mr Afenyo-Markin said the primary objection to the recent recommendation for appointment to the Supreme Court was on the back of a justification that, even judges in the Supreme Court of the United States (US) with their larger population were not up to 10 and for that matter, any such recommendation was an attempt to ‘load’ the apex court of Ghana.

For the avoidance of doubt, Mr Afenyo-Markin stated that, unlike the US Supreme Court, in Ghana, a litigant had unfettered rights and access to the Supreme court.

He said it was also important to underscore the fact that, an appeal to the Supreme Court operates as of right which is provided for under Article 131 (1) (a) of the 1992 constitution of the Republic of Ghana except matters of Parliamentary Elections dispute settled by the Court of Appeal.

He said this was settled by the Supreme Cour
t in the case of Sumaila Biebel v Adamu Dramani Sakande.

He said what must also be noted that the jurisdiction of Ghana’s Supreme Court incorporates other jurisdictions such as Original jurisdiction as provided for under Article 130 of the constitution of Ghana, Enforcement Jurisdiction, Review Jurisdiction as provided for under Article 133 (1) of the constitution of Ghana as well as Appellate jurisdiction as provided for under Article 131 of the constitution, Supervisory jurisdiction as provided for under Article 132 of the constitution of the Republic of Ghana.

He said he attempt to create an unrelated comparison of Ghana’s judicial system to other jurisdictions such as the United States and others was a recipe for an absurd conclusion.

Touching on the argument regarding the packing of the apex court, which was being foisted on Ghanaians by the NDC, Mr Afenyo-Markin said it was important to point out that, apart from Justice Paul Baffoe Bonnie and Justice Gabriel Scott Pwamang, all the other justices of
the Supreme Court were appointed by the sitting President (Akufo-Addo).

‘There seems to be a missing link in their comparison of both jurisdictions. What they are not telling us, however, is that both Supreme Courts exercise different and distinct jurisdiction in terms of mandate and power,’ he said.

He said for emphasis, the total number of Supreme Court judges in all the 50 US States was hovering around 340; adding that on the average each State Supreme Court had six Justices.

Mr Afenyo-Markin said the fundamental difference was that Ghana had only one Supreme Court with Districts, Circuit and High Courts distributed to the various sixteen Regions in Ghana.

He said what must be noted however was that it was possible for a case to move from a District Court to the Supreme Court either on appeal or an interlocutory reference to the supreme court for interpretation of a constitutional provision as was done in the case of Raphael Cubagee v Michael Asare Yeboah.

‘As it stands now, Nigeria, has increased the
number of its Supreme Court Judges from 20 to 24 to manage the workload for effective dispensation of the cases before them,’ he stated.

‘It is worth emphasizing the fact that, even in the United Kingdom, only 80 to 100 cases are heard in a year by their Supreme Court, which has a limited jurisdiction as compared to Ghana.’

The Majority Leader said the Supreme Court of Ghana received 900 cases in 2021; adding that at the end of 2021, they were able to hear six hundred cases.

He said the decision of the Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana to recommend Justices for appointment to the Supreme Court comes on the back of multiple cases the Supreme Court is always saddled with.

‘It is instructive to note that, since independence, we have allowed institutions to grow. Even before 2019, Ghana had only 10 Regions. As we speak, we have an additional six making it sixteen.’

He said the argument by the NDC that the nation’s Supreme Court was being packed or heaped was untenable having regard to its multifaceted j
urisdictions unlike the United States and UK.

He said that the apex court of the land must be allowed to go through reformation through expansion in terms of numbers.

‘This is because, the minimum number of Supreme Court judges as set out in the 1992 constitution is evidence of the fact that, the framers of the constitution in their wisdom had anticipated that, there will be a future need to increase the number of judges in our Supreme Court, this is the reason why, they settled on a minimum number and not a maximum number as provided for in the 1992 constitution of the Republic of Ghana,’ Mr Afenyo-Markin stated.

Source: Ghana News Agency

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