Court adjourns hearing of interlocutory order to Friday

An Accra High Court hearing an application for an interlocutory injunction restraining the Judicial Council from continuing with the proceedings on some of the indicted judges and magistrates has adjourned to September 25.

The court, presided over by Mrs Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, a Justice of the Court of Appeal, adjourned the matter to enable the counsel for the plaintiffs to respond to an affidavit in opposition and statement of case filed by the defendants.

The defendants also filed affidavits in opposition to strike out the suit filed against the Disciplinary Committee investigating the judicial bribery scandal against the judges.

Justice Torkornoo said it was necessary for the plaintiffs to have enough time to respond appropriately to the documents filed.

Mr John Ndebugri, lead Counsel for the Plaintiffs, told the court that they were served with the documents only on Tuesday morning around 9:15am and hence could not respond.

Mrs Helen Apkpene Ziwu, the Acting Solicitor-General, told the court that those documents were filed on Friday, saying the issues were sensitive and affected the fibre of the country.

She, therefore, prayed the court to abridge the time for the plaintiffs to respond to the affidavits to strike out the matter but the judge refused the application.

The interlocutory order of injunction filed earlier seeks to restrain the Judicial Council from continuing with the proceedings.

The plaintiffs said even though the 1992 Constitution empowered the Chief Justice and the Judicial Council to remove persons holding judicial offices on certain specific grounds, including misbehavior, such removal must be in accordance with due process.

It said each of them, being a pensionable officer, could not be removed from office as a result of summary proceedings without being convicted of the criminal acts alleged against them.

The plaintiffs said the law provided that disciplinary proceedings against judicial office holders be conducted by a single judge of the High Court or some other judicial officer appointed for that purpose by the Chief Justice.

They said the committee instituted by the Judicial Council to conduct disciplinary proceedings against them had no legal basis.

The plaintiffs explained that unless restrained by a court, the defendant’s illegal Disciplinary Committee would continue to conduct the illegal disciplinary proceedings against each of them, which were likely to lead to their removal from office under rather dubious and disturbing circumstances.

“That we have already suffered and continue to suffer grave hardship, loss and inconvenience as a result of illegal conduct of the defendant’s and its illegal committee,” the writ said. GNA

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