COULD A CHIEF JUSTICE BE REMOVED FROM OFFICE WITHOUT DUE PROCESS?

Foroyaa is very much concerned about the security of tenure of judges. The rumours are rife again. The unconfirmed report is that the chief justice is removed. As was the case of the Court Martial, the state broadcaster was left to give the public stale news. 

After Chief Justice Agim’s departure Justice Wowo acted as Chief Justice and was followed by Chief Justice Agyemang. Justice Fagbenle then acted as Chief Justice and was replaced by Chief Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan.

Now one may ask could a judge be dismissed without due process. Section 141 of the constitution contains two provisions which should be read in tandem. According to Section 141 subsection (2) subject to the provisions of this section, a judge of a Superior Court-

(a) may retire on pension at any time after attaining the age of sixty five years;

(b) shall vacate the office of judge on attaining the age of seventy years; or

(c) may have his or her appointment terminated by the President in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission.

Subsection (4) adds that “The Chief Justice, a justice of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the High court and members of the Special Criminal Court may only be removed from office for inability to perform the functions of his or her judicial office, whether arising from infirmity of body or mind, or for misconduct.”

This of course is determined by impeachment proceedings as specified under Section 141 of the Constitution. In our view no judge should be removed without such proceedings.