Judicial Service Commission should be chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice – Petitioner

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—-Some petitioners in Kafue District have submitted to the Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission that the Judicial Service Commission should not be chaired by a sitting Chief Justice but a retired supreme court judge in  order to avoid favoritism in the appointment of judicial officers.

Gidson Sinkala submitted during the public sitting yesterday that instead of the President appointing a sitting Chief Justice to chair
the Judicial Service Commission, the President should be appointing a
retired supreme court judge to be the chairperson of this commission.

Mr Sinkala stated that alternatively the appointment of the Judicial Service Commission chairperson should be given to the stakeholders
such as the Church, civil society organisations, Law Association of
Zambia and retired judges to appoint a person of high integrity from the retired Supreme Court Judge to hold the position.

Mr Sinkala observed that the current practice where the Chief Justice chairs the commission leaves opportunities for favoritism towards some
officers in good books with the Chief Justice while deserving officers who may not be in good books with the chairperson may be left out.

The Zambian constitution provides in Article 93 (1) that the Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice shall, subject to ratification by
National Assembly, be appointed by the President.

The Chief Justice also chairs the Judicial Service Commission which comprises a Supreme Court Judge, the Attorney General, the Solicitor
General, a Member of Parliament, and the Secretary to the Cabinet, a
Legal Practitioner, and President of the Law Association of Zambia, Dean of the School of Law and the Chairman of the Public Service Commission.

And Mr Sinkala also recommended that the quorum for the Judicial Service Commission should only be formed if the Attorney General and
the chairperson of the Public Service Commission are present.

He further submitted that a time frame of one month should be given to judges to deliver judgments after the close trial in any case to avoid
long adjournments and suggested that judges and magistrates should be confined to duties of adjudication and not administration.

Another petitioner, Cuthbert Mulenga, submitted that government should come up with strong laws to compel mining companies
to be paying tax without defaulting, noting that the current scenario
should be revisited.

Mr Mulenga also submitted that cases that are taken to the Supreme Court should not be taken back to the high court to avoid controversy
as the Supreme Court remains the highest court of appeal on the land.

He cited the election petition which the Supreme Court presided over but was referred back to the High Court for retrial as a conflict in
the operations of the courts in Zambia which he said should be corrected.