Seek public interest over other considerations - Dr Atta-Baffoe urges judges
The Anglican Bishop of Cape Coast, Rt Rev. Dr Victor Reginald Atta-Baffoe, has urged judges in the country to seek the public interest over any other consideration in the delivery of justice.
That, he explained, would strengthen the pillars of justice and give hope to the ordinary Ghanaian.
In a homily to open the 66th legal year at the Cathedral Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Accra yesterday, Rt Rev. Dr Atta-Baffoe said Jesus Christ in his public ministry acted to reinstate the underprivileged by granting help to the less privileged faction of society such as the blind, the lame, evil possessed and even the dead.
He added that the use of justice throughout the holy books was more mandatory than voluntary, hence God demanded of every believer, including judges, to seek justice at all cost without failing the disadvantaged.
Consequently, Rt Rev. Dr Atta-Baffoe said the practice of the law was a higher calling, which must not be used to chase after material rewards but to render service of hope to those who sought justice.
“In our day-to-day practice of the law, we have also been called to pay attention to the cardinal points of justice and act in the interest of the public and not in our own interest,” Rt Rev. Dr Atta-Baffoe said in his sermon, premised on Isaiah 1:17, which commands believers to defend the oppressed in the pursuit of righteousness.
It was on the theme: “Building the pillars of Justice”.
Organised by the Judicial Service, the special service was to officially signify the start of the 2023/2024 legal year.
The legal year starts from October to July and it commences after the legal vacation (August-September) when justices of the superior courts go on recess.
During the legal vacation, the lower courts and some High courts continue to operate, so that the wheels of justice will not grind to a halt.
The special service brought together the clergy, judges, lawyers and other stakeholders in the justice delivery system of the country, with the common purpose of seeking divine intervention during the new legal year.
Present at the event were the Chief Justice, Justice Gertrude Torkornoo; the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame; the President of the Ghana Bar Association, Yaw Acheampong Boafo, among other dignitaries.
The service began with a procession of judges and lawyers, led by the Chief Justice, to the church premises, and after the service, there was a cocktail at the forecourt of the Supreme Court building.
Suggesting practical ways to build the pillars of Justice, Rt Rev. Dr Atta-Baffoe said every individual was created in the image and likeness of God, hence the dignity of a person must not be lessened since it formed the basis for all other rights.
Additionally, he stressed the need to harmonise and promote the common good of the rights and duties of every group.
He further noted that as a requirement for justice to triumph, people must be allowed to participate in decisions that directly affected them and actively shaped their lives and their own destiny.
“The rich have responsibility for the poor, and national and international structures must reflect this.
The poor are not burdens and the strangers who live among us are not alien.
They are our sisters and brothers.
“Be transparent and open in your actions when delivering justice.
Be impartial and neutral in the decision-making process because right relationship means giving to others what is owed to them.
We must recognise and remember what we owe to those who cannot demand it,” he added.
In her message to herald her first legal year since assuming office, Chief Justice Torkornoo said the Judicial Service under her tenure would focus on four cardinal pillars —law, ethics, assets and due process.
That, she said, would help build a more efficient and effective judiciary to advance the course of the country.
She, therefore, called on all stakeholders to help her deepen the nexus between law, ethics, assets and due process and the quality of justice delivery.
“It is my fervent desire and commitment that as we do so, the wheels of justice will stop grinding slowly, and begin to grind efficiently, effectively and with increasing finality, so that court users will appreciate the role of the courts in the stability, wealth creation and security of the nation,” the Chief Justice said.