High Court dismisses application for injunction by 14 judges

An Accra High Court presided over by Justice Getrude Torkonoo on Tuesday dismissed an injunction application filed by 14 Circuit Court judges and magistrates to stop a five member committee from investigating allegations against them.

The judges and magistrates wanted the court to stop the work of a five-member committee investigating them after undercover journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas exposed them in his video.

The judges in their suit argued that the investigative committee does not have the authority to sanction them, adding that it is only a court of competent jurisdiction that must try them before any sanction from the Service.

The High Court presided over by a Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, said it agreed with the Attorney Generals (AG’s) argument and dismissed the application for injunction.

She said her decision to dismiss the injunction application was not based on the merit of the arguments raised by both the lawyers of the judges and the AG.

Mr Ndebugri, leading counsel for the 14 judges, said the respondents were interfering in the procedure that needs to be taken by the Chief Justice as mandated by law.

He argued that under the Constitution a person holding judicial office could only be dismissed by the Chief Justice (CJ) and not by the Judicial Council (JC), adding that the judicial officer must also be informed about proceedings against him or her because the penalties are likely to be different.

Mr Ndebugri said “you cannot proceed against a judicial officer unless you have secured a conviction before a court of competent jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is conferred by law”

He noted that the plaintiffs have demonstrated that, the JC has acted without jurisdiction, since proceedings must be constituted by a single high court judge to be nominated by the CJ and not the JC.

“We are taking leave of the court to put each of the applicant plaintiffs in the witness box, to indicate how they have suffered. They would give evidence and would be cross examined,” he added.

He argued that in an application of this nature when the jurisdiction is important, the applicants should determined whether there is a right and whether that right was being infringed upon or not.

However the state, represented by Mrs Hellen Ziwu, acting Solicitor-General stated that the defence was opposed to the application of the injunction, saying the JC had jurisdiction to investigate the matter.

She said the CJ can delegate or be assisted by the JC in executing her functions, and for that matter the application by the plaintiffs was mischievous and intends to frustrate the proceedings of the JC and CJ.

The Constitution overrides all other laws in this country and mandates the JC to conduct investigations where necessary, saying as long as the JC has the power to appoint judicial officers, it also has the power or mandate to dismiss as well.

Mrs Ziwu argued that the JC is established to assist the CJ in the performance of its duties and it can set up committees to execute its mandates. The disciplinary procedure by the JC against the plaintiff was not against the law but in accordance with the law.

The 14 are part of 22 suspended judges allegedly caught on tape taking bribes by the investigative journalist.

They include, Emmanuel Kofi Sunu, Benjamin Yaw Osei, Kodwo Filson, Seyram Tsatsu Azumah, Isaac Akwantey and Florence Ninepence, who are all Circuit Court judges.

The others who are District Magistrates are Jacob Amponsah, Alfred K. A. Mensah, Albert Zoogah, Isaac Amoah, Michael Gyamfi Boamah, Paul Alhassah, Stephen Assure and William Baffoae. GNA

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