Chief Justice nominee refutes claims of bias in Supreme Court rulings on political cases
Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, who has been nominated for the position of Chief Justice, has dismissed accusations of bias in the Supreme Court's handling of political cases.
Speaking before Parliament's Appointments Committee on Friday, May 26, Justice Torkornoo explained that a unanimous decision by the highest court indicates that the ruling is based on legal grounds rather than bias.
"When a unanimous decision is reached, it signifies that the law unequivocally supports the court's position, and every member of the court, in adherence to their judicial oath, cannot take a different stance. It reveals what the law truly entails.
Therefore, the only appropriate response is to understand and learn from the legal principles, as it is not a matter of bias, but a matter of upholding the legal position," Justice Torkornoo clarified.
Some members of the National Democratic Congress have publicly criticized the Supreme Court, claiming bias after a series of defeats in the election petition hearings. According to them, the court tends to favor the NPP (New Patriotic Party) during cases involving the two parties.
In November 2021, the party described as a travesty of justice, a Supreme Court decision that gave the green light to Justice Clement Honyenuga to conduct proceedings in the case in which Dr Stephen Opuni and two others are standing trial for procurement breaches in a fertilizer deal.
“We and all those who seek justice will continue to pray for the accused persons in the hope that they are vindicated by the truth and the law at the end of the trial. We urge them to fight with courage and perseverance to the very end,” the party said.
A statement signed by Asiedu Nketia, the then General Secretary of the NDC, said there were certain features of the majority’s ruling that caused “us great concern. “We are at a loss as to why the Supreme Court will prohibit a High Court Judge from hearing the Kennedy Agyapong contempt case on the basis of real likelihood of bias just because the Judge had used the expression “severely punished” while the same Court did not see a real likelihood of bias against the accused persons from the clear prejudicial statements of the presiding Judge in the Opuni case stated above,” it said.
However, the Chief Justice nominee further expounded that people may lose cases due to technicalities and subsequently search for excuses to explain their losses. She emphasized the importance of individuals having a solid understanding of legal principles before passing judgments.
Justice Torkornoo also defended the Supreme Court's decision to issue contempt summons to individuals who make derogatory remarks or tarnish the reputation of the apex court. She stressed that summoning individuals for contempt serves as a mechanism to uphold the dignity and reputation of Ghana's courts.
"The use of contempt summons has long been employed by courts to prevent the court's reputation from being undermined. The Supreme Court is one of 400 courts, and it represents the final authority. Whenever the court takes action, whether it's the High Court, Court of Appeal, or Supreme Court, it is to safeguard the integrity of the justice system," Justice Torkornoo explained during her vetting.