Parliament approves Justice Torkornoo as 15th CJ
Parliament has unanimously approved Justice Gertrude Araba Esaaba Sackey Torkornoo as the 15th Chief Justice (CJ) of Ghana.
The overwhelming endorsement of Justice Torkornoo by the lawmakers yesterday also made her the third female to occupy one of the nation’s most prestigious offices after Theodora Woode and Sophia Akuffo.
Moving the motion for the approval of the nominee, the Chairman of the Appointments Committee of Parliament, Joe Osei Owusu, said the Chief Justice showed character, competence and dexterity in the knowledge of the law during her vetting barely a fortnight ago.
Quoting from the committee’s report, the chairman, who doubles as the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, said she pledged to interpret the law without fear or favour if approved as the Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana.
"The committee, therefore, recommends to the House to adopt its report and by consensus approve Justice Gertrude Araba Esaaba Sackey Torkornoo as Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana," he said.
While seconding the motion, the Minority Chief Whip, Kwame Agbodza, however, expressed concern about the view of the new Chief Justice on Citizenship.
He said for her to insist during the vetting that birth certificate was not a proof of citizenship was worrying.
Mr Agbodza pointed out that such a view could lead to miscarriage of justice to a number of Ghanaians and, therefore, she must take steps to reverse it.
Contributing to the motion, the former Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, said the Supreme Court was not about criticism of the House.
He said freedom of expression as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution gave individuals the right to critique the judgement of the courts if they were not pleasant in law and probably in facts.
Mr Iddrisu, who is the MP for Tamale South, said in civilised jurisdictions and even in Ghana, the Supreme Court Judges were servants of the Legislature.
"We make the laws and they are to interpret them.
That is why we must not use language that is ambiguous when interpreting the law. The Supreme Court is to be guided," he said.
He also touched on James Gyakye Quayson's ruling, emphasing that the Supreme Court might probably have erred in the delivery of justice.
He urged the new Chief Justice to improve on the E-Justice system she has championed all along.
The MP for Abuakwa South, Samuel Atta Akyea, said the proof of citizenship was a constitutional matter which could be dealt with under Article 6 of the Constitution.
He said if anyone found something wrong with that, one could go to court.
"The nominee is a symbol of the power of womanhood," he stated.
Mr Atta Akyea said the intellectual capacity of women mattered and not only their body.
"I'm persuaded that she will change the face of the Judiciary," he added.
The MP for Techiman North, Elizabeth Ofosu Agyare, said: “What a woman can do a man cannot do and what a man can do, a woman can do better.”
The MP for Ablekuma West, Ursula G. Owusu-Ekuful, said she had known the Chief Justice for 30 years and had no doubt about her ability to deliver.
She urged her to try and marry the manual system with the E-system of delivering justice to embrace all.
Before the Speaker declared or posed the question for her approval or otherwise, he said without the Judiciary, there would be no democracy and law and order.
He urged MPs to critique judgements on a case by case basis and not generalise them.
Justice Sackey Torkornoo joined the Judicial Service in 2004 as one of the first Justices of the Commercial Division of the High Court.
She has been active in the core reform agenda and activities of the Judiciary and the Judicial Service of Ghana (JSG) since 2005.
The nominee holds an LLM, Intellectual Property Law - Golden Gate University San Francisco, USA between 2010 and 2011.
In 2001, she obtained P.G. Dip, International Law & Organisations for Development, Institute of Social Studies (now part of Erasmus University), The Hague, Netherlands.
Mrs Sackey Torknonoo had her Professional Certificate in Law at the Ghana School of Law in 1986, and studied BA Law and Sociology at the University of Ghana in 1984.
She also holds a GCE A Level from Achimota School, Accra, in 1980 and GCE O Level from Wesley Girls’ High School, Cape Coast, in 1978.