where enormous time was spent -- close to six months -- I believe that we should see an end where even, instead of 21 days, we can say that this should be done within 7 days or 14 days.
And having filed the petition, I strongly submit that the Supreme Court must not have more than 60, or at worse 90 days to make a determination of the matter. I believe stongly that, we would have to relook at the Constitutional provision of article 64.
This is because, when the framers of the Constitution argued that the President shall have a term of four years, it should be an unfettered term of four years. Even though the legitimacy of it is not questioned and decisions and declarations are not questioned, it is important that we work with the Judiciary in order to have a closure whenever we have a Presidential Election Petition.
The closure, in my view, should not exceed 60 days. The maximum should be within 90 days. If they have to sit day and night, they should do so in the interest of safeguarding our Constitutional democracy.
Mr Speaker, Justice Sophia Akuffo would join many others. As you may recall, we have had Justice F. K. Apaloo - - 1977 to 1986; Justice Sowah -- 1986 to 1990; Justice Phillip Archer -- 1991 to 1995. We also had Justice Isaac Kobina Abban -- 1995 to 2001; Justice Edward Kwame Wiredu - 2001 to 2003 and Justice George Kingsley Acquah - 2003 to 2007. Now, she is going to put her feet into the shoes of Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, having served from 2007 till date.
Mr Speaker, she was born in 1949. Sooner than later, she would also attain
the terminal end of when she can serve on the Bench as a justice of the Supreme Court and Chief Justice of Ghana. That means that, another transition would inure.
Mr Speaker, may I further refer to page 20 of your Committee's Report -- Seniority at the Supreme Court. When she was asked a question, she herself alluded to the fact that, her twin nominee with whom she was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1995 was Justice Atuguba.
If we were to follow seniority, then, the most senior at the Supreme Court would be Justice Atuguba. Mr Speaker, I say so, recognising that the President has done what is competent within the Constitution per article 144 of the Constitution, that in doing this appointment, he consults with the Council of State and Parliament.
Mr Speaker, even with Parliament, we should look at the wording there. Unlike Ministers of State where it requires “prior approval of Parliament', in this instance, it is not the same thing.
With your indulgence again, I beg to quote article 144 of the 1992 Constitution. It reads:
“The Chief Justice shall be appointed by the President acting in consultation with the Council of State and with the approval of Parliament.”
It is not “prior approval” but we still subjected her to the Appointments Committee, Mr Speaker, your Committee, which per the Hon Chairman and ourselves as Hon Members of the Committee, seek to improve some of the processes. Mr Speaker, seniority at the Bench is important and must be respected at all times.
Mr Speaker, that leads me to a major issue. Still on page 20, Conditions of Service for the Judiciary. Mr Speaker, unlike Parliament where we have Constitutional Instrument (CI) 11 which governs the Conditions of Service of members of the Parliamentary Service, since 1993, it is my view that we have slept on article 158 (2) and 149 of the Constitution.
The Judiciary needs to have a CI which makes a distinction and segregation between article 71 office holders, judicial officers and non-judicial officers. We have a situation where the Judicial Council meets and approves Conditions of Service for them and it is binding on the Executive.
Mr Speaker, again, we have to take a position as a House. The Judiciary is one of the co-equal organs of State just like Parliament and the Executive. They suffer unnecessary budget cuts and that, in her view, affects the administration of justice and the delivery of justice.
If we say that democracy is expensive, try it. It is expensive but it is worth it and I believe that we must begin to work towards increased budgetary allocations for the Judiciary.
If one travels round the country apart from Accra, court infrastructure, particularly, are in very poor and dilapidated state across the country -- particularly in the regions and the districts -- and we would want to see an improvement in the delivery of justice across the country.
Mr Speaker, on the C.I. as I said, referring to article 158 (2) and 149, of the 1992 Constitution, my Hon Colleagues who have worked at the Ministry of
Finance would appreciate it. It says that, the Judicial Council shall, with the prior approval of the President, in consultation with the Public Services Commission and by CI.
Since the promulgation of this Constitution, we have never had a Constitutional Instrument (C. I.) to govern the Conditions of Service of the Judiciary.
It is heart-warming when I recall some engagements with the Judicial Council where they had their last strike action. Mr Speaker, permit me to spend some time on it. There is now a trade unionism manifesting -- I hope it does not come to Parliament in future -- within the Judiciary and that is dangerous, particularly to liberties and freedoms. For example, when a particular accused person is to appear on 24th of a month, then on the 24th, there is a strike action.
There is a legal difficulty on what the status of that particular matter is. We need to support the Judiciary, so, I do share the position.
The nominee was re-assuring in indicating to the Committee that, there is a draft Constitutional Instrument which has been submitted to the Attorney- General and Minister for Justice. The problem would not be the Attorney- General and Minister for Justice, the problem would be with the Ministry of Finance and Government's purse. But we need to find a way to deal with this particular issue.
Mr Speaker, I also note -- and that is part of our displeasure and disquiet -- that though the President honoured article 149 of the Constitution, at the time of the nomination of the Chief Justice of our country and the vetting process, there is no Judicial Council in place.