William Atuguba, a retired Supreme Court justice, argues that the public’s declining trust in the court is a constitutional problem.
The issue, according to the retiring Supreme Court justice, might be linked to the appointment procedure.
He noted that the Judicial Council, which is responsible for appointing judges, invites presidential nominees to participate in its deliberations.
In an interview with Joy News, he made the remarks.
“You want the judiciary to be independent, the Constitution states so. Nonetheless, on the Judicial Council, which recommends Justices to be appointed, you have the Attorney General and four nominees of the president sitting there taking part in the proceedings as to who should be presented for appointment to the Supreme Court.”
“Where is the independence of the judiciary? We have the executive so strongly present there?” Justice Atuguba quizzed.
“The present structure of the Judicial Council, has the Chief Justice as chairman, a representative of the Supreme Court and the various other lower courts (Appeals Court, High Court, etc), the Judge Advocate General from the Armed Forces, the director of the Police Legal Directorate, editor of the law reports, two members of the bar association, and then the four presidential nominees and the Attorney General.”
“Now, if you look at it realistically, who can stand up to a Chief Justice who wants to do the president’s bidding? I mean, just for the sake of argument, who can stand up? Is it the Attorney General and the four nominees? They will certainly try to push for the president, isn’t it?”
He went on to state that “Then the representative of the Supreme Court, it also depends on how he stands in relation to the Chief Justice. If he’s not independent-minded, he may always like to side with the Chief Justice,” he said adding that other representatives of the courts may also side with the Chief Justice too.
He called for a change in the composition of the Judicial Council.
He said it would be prudent to remove executive members from the Council to ensure its independence in executing its duties.
“In the separation of powers, the executive should be separate from the judicial arm so that they are independent and can do their work freely. Then you bring them there to police their appointments from the beginning? Is that how to achieve an independent judiciary?”