Delicate dance between politics, judiciary

The recent public exchange between Ghana's President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and former President John Mahama has reignited a critical discussion: the judiciary's and politics' intertwining roles. 

This dual phenomenon, described as the judicialisation of politics and the politicisation of the judiciary, is reshaping the dynamics of many democracies globally.

In understanding the ramifications of this interplay, let us delve into its impact on judicial independence and the overall delivery of justice.

Courts in political arena

The term 'judicialisation of politics' refers to the rising tendency of courts to resolve disputes traditionally managed by political channels.

As judiciaries worldwide, including Ghana, take on more politically charged cases, they inevitably find themselves at the crossroads of law and political governance.

This phenomenon underscores the judiciary's growing authority and ability to influence public policy and governmental actions.

When politics intrudes

The politicisation of the judiciary unfolds when political entities and actors overtly or covertly influence or even attempt to control the judiciary's decisions and processes.

Former President Mahama's remarks about the current government's influence on the courts and his subsequent implication of a rebalancing act by his party epitomise the concerns surrounding this issue.

Judicial independence remains one of the critical pillars upholding democratic structures. To maintain the rule of law, the judiciary should function without external coercion or influence.

However, this independence becomes jeopardised when the line blurs between political agenda and judicial appointments or when judges are perceived as political pawns.

A politicised judiciary can severely erode public confidence in the legal framework, whether in perception or reality.

When the public starts to see the judiciary as an extension of the political elite, it casts a shadow on the impartiality and integrity of judicial verdicts.

Consequences for justice delivery

Justice, when filtered through the lens of political inclinations, may not remain. A judiciary swayed by politics can result in inconsistent rulings, favouring political allies over legal principles.

Such a volatile legal environment could deter individuals and businesses from seeking legal recourse, fearing bias or unpredictability.

Moreover, verdicts influenced by political motivations often sideline true justice, favouring political objectives and leaving aggrieved parties without genuine redress.

Towards balanced future

While the interplay between politics and the judiciary is not confined to Ghana's borders, the recent controversy highlights the urgency of ensuring transparency in judicial appointments and decisions.

Modern democracies are at a juncture where they must create judiciaries that are not only attuned to democratic principles but are also shielded from excessive political meddling.

In conclusion, as countries such as Ghana navigate these intricate challenges, there is a collective responsibility to foster judiciaries prioritising justice over politics and principles over affiliations.

The writer is a lawyer/Chartered Accountant.

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