The Minister-designate for the Attorney-General and Justice Ministry Godfred Yeboah Dame says the question of capping for the number of justices appointed to the Supreme Court has implications for the independence of the judiciary.
The nominee said considerations for a cap of limitations on the number of judges appointed to the Apex Court has every relevance for the independence of the judiciary.
According to him, there is worry about the president seeking to maintain its grip of the judiciary in appointing justices to the SC.
He explained Ghana has maintained its convention of maintaining a number of about 15 even though there is no limitation.
He opined that the issue could be addressed first and foremost through the appointment processes set out in the constitution.
He was of the view that if stakeholders perform their functions faithfully, then there would be a check on the president from abusing his office.
He noted that if the Judicial Council will have an inbuilt mechanism for a thorough approval of a person who may be advised for appointments. I think that will be the first step. Secondly, there is also required to be consultation with the Council of State. Even the Council of State is seen as part of the Executive which some theories will disagree with. I think they can be a useful check.
He said per our laws, the appointment requires that we have not less than 9 plus the Chief Justice at the Apex Court. However, there is no upper limit.
”That is why I am saying, I consider the appointment process to be ”very material…In order to curb a President who would want to appoint as many SC justices as possible, by a way of subtle manipulation of the Supreme Court, the various parties involved in the appointment procedure as set out in Article 144 Clause 2, will be very material. The first party is the Judicial Council, so the President does not with all respect get up and appoint on his own.”
”…if all these parties relevant here were to take their constitutional duties seriously with all respect and ensure that even the case or the situation of the President appointing does not arise, there would be a check or there would a cue to the problem envisaged by my very good friend the Honourable member”.
He also described the role of Parliament as crucial and believes the cap is not necessary since the Constitution has provided an internal check for such restrictions to be achieved.
The need to appoint many SC judges he noted has been necessitated by the combined jurisdictions of the court.
He said the SC is an appellate court, a constitutional court, a review court, an election petition court and also a court set out by Article 185 for approval for the release of official documents.