Decisions of Supreme Court critical for national development — President
Perspectives of Supreme Court judges on issues brought before them are critical for national development, especially in these challenging times, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said.
He said it was for this reason that Article 129 of the 1992 Constitution positioned the apex court as a policy court where far-reaching decisions on the nation’s social and economic development were taken to respond to the exigencies of the time.
The President, therefore, admonished justices of the Supreme Court to be learned, know their case law and also ensure that decisions and judgments were properly motivated, stressing: “It is in this manner that judges contribute to the orderly development of the nation.”
President Akufo-Addo said this when he swore in two justices to the Supreme Court at the Jubilee House in Accra last Tuesday.
They are Justice George Kingsley Koomson and Justice Ernest Yao Gaewu.
Their appointment was necessitated by the vacancies created on the court as a result of the retirement of Justice Clemence Honyenuga on September 24, 2022 and Justice Agnes Dodzie on October 2, 2022.
It was also in fulfilment of Article 144 Clause 2 of the Constitution on the nomination and confirmation processes initiated by the Judicial Council, in consultation with the Council of State, and their subsequent approval by Parliament.
The President further said the situation where a judge proffered judgment on the basis of decisions by lower courts and cited them as law was not acceptable, and even less so when judges cited no authority at all for their ruling and gave orders without reasons.
He urged judges to bear in mind that the growth of the nation demanded that the Judiciary commanded the respect of the people through their conduct and the quality of judgments they delivered.
On the living organism nature of the Constitution, he cited a case — Tuffuor vs Attorney-General — in which he (the President), then a practising lawyer, had acted as lead counsel for the plaintiff and won.
Justice Sowah, JSC, delivering the unanimous judgement, said: “The Constitution has its letter of the law; equally the Constitution has its spirit. Its language, therefore, must be considered as if it were a living organism capable of growth and development.”
“The broad and liberal spirit is required for its interpretation. It does not admit of a narrow interpretation. A doctrinal approach to interpretation will not do. We must take account of its principles and bring that consideration to bear in bringing it into conformity with the needs of the time.
“As contained in Article129, the Supreme Court was not bound to follow decisions of any other court, including its own, and ‘shall have all the powers, authority and jurisdiction vested in any court established by the Constitution or any other law’,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo said with all other courts bound to follow the decisions of the Supreme Court on questions of law, it was critical that the justices of the apex court possessed a sound knowledge of the law and of precedent, which had been the bedrock for the evolution of the common law.
On behalf of his colleague, Justice Koomson thanked the President and other stakeholders for the confidence reposed in them.
He gave an assurance that they would work in the interest of the people, in line with the supreme laws of the land.