Don’t cap appointments to SC

Judges wear the gowns and wigs ostensibly to disguise themselves, especially, during criminal trials, Justice Gertrude Araba Esaaba Torkornoo, Justice Designate for the Supreme Court has said. 

She said by extension therefore the dressing often described as colonial relics still has a useful role to play in legal jurisprudence in the country. 

Justice Torkornoo who is being elevated from the Court of Appeal said this when she appeared before the Appointment Committee of Parliament yesterday to be vetted for the new position. 

Responding to a question whether it was high time to do away with such dressings, she said in her personal opinion, it would be preferable to wear an African print than the robes on the bench. 

She, however, pointed out that the Judicial Service has directed judges to wear suits if they so wish during civil cases. 

Justice Torkornoo said the wig and robe together with other apparels that comes with the dressings served as a good disguise because judges could hardly be recognised after removing them. 

She was supportive of the Constitution not giving a cap on appointments to the Supreme Court because the work of the apex court was so enormous that at a point of crisis, the Chief Justice could empanel other Justices to do the job.  

Citing an example, she said for example a Presidential Petition needed at least nine judges to sit on the  matter creating a challenge for other cases before the Supreme Court which would have posed a challenge should there be a capping system. 

Justice Torkornoo said the situation where determination of Presidential Petition ran for a number of months and some cases years was not the best adding that the Legislature must enact a law to determine the duration as practice in other jurisdictions. 

Touching on Intellectual Property Rights, she said Ghana has very comprehensive laws to protect right of intellectuals to get value for work, be it a copyright, trademark or patent. 

She however said what was lacking in the situation was the absence of education which would empower the businesses and individuals to defend their intellectual properties. 

Justice Torkornoo said one reform needed most to transform the business environment was the disclosure of properties which could enhance justice delivery at the commercial courts. 

She said there was the need to get the proper address of every business and individuals, assets registration, which would ensure compensation for litigants. 

She said the address and the assets registration was important in view of the fact that people would clear their bank accounts or transfer their properties to other names before the end of a litigation, especially in commercial suits. 

She said one of the challenges confronting the courts was finding people to serve them with court papers to compel court appearance adding that registration of address could solve the problem. 

Justice Torkornoo said the Affirmative Action Right has been addressed by the constitution with the provision of gender and regional balances which if carried out in all spheres, community, social and economic life would enhance the disposition of the Affirmative Action. 

She said corruption cut across the fibre of society adding that in the case of judges the perception deepens as a result of predators who parade the corridors of the courts and prey on unsuspecting people that they have influence over judges. 

“They will enter a judge’s chamber to greet only to return to unsuspecting people to say that they have finished with the trial judge,” she said. 

She said that such a situation and many others helped to fuel the perception of judicial corruption. 

Justice Torkornoo said she was an advocate of pro-life, however if a situation could endanger the life of a pregnant woman, then she was in support of the law which called for an abortion under that special circumstances.

BY LAWRENCE MARKWEI

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