Joseph Osei-Owusu, the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, has said the Minority’s decision to abstain from voting on the President’s nominee for the position of Chief Justice, Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, will not have any impact on the recommendations of the Appointments Committee.
The Minority last Friday abstained from voting on the nominee due to the unavailability of the reasoned judgement of the Supreme Court in the matter of James Gyakye Quayson, whose election results as MP for Assin North was declared null and void last week.
Appearing on the Asaase Breakfast Show on Monday (29 May), Osei-Owusu said: “As at now, it doesn’t have any impact at all.”
“They wanted that [the judgement] to probably inform their question to her. That’s all, but after the completion of the process, we cannot let a decision abide, on whether they got a copy or not,” the chairman of the committee said.
Meanwhile, Justice Torkornoo has said the law on contempt of court has always been a tool to protect the sanctity of the court.
Justice Torkornoo was answering a question from the Member of Parliament for Madina, Francis Xavier Sosu on the summoning of persons before the court for contempt, especially by the Supreme Court.
The Chief Justice nominee said if the Supreme Court is not alert and alive on the issues of contempt, lower courts in the country will suffer more.
Justice Torkornoo said the tool [contempt of court] that the court has been given is to ensure that the peace and stability of the nation is not jeopardised.
She said: “We have close to 400 courts; we have five levels of courts…the Supreme Court is just one out of the 400 courts and the Supreme Court is the ultimate voice of authority for the entire judicial stream, if the Supreme Court is not alert and alive to its responsibility to ensuring that the justice system not denigrated beyond boundaries, those below us [Supreme Court] are likely to suffer much more than we.”
“And I can say that this is not a recent trend, the issuing of contempt summons has always been a tool that has been used by courts to ensure that the dignity of the court is not scandalised. If you go through the history of our systems you will find many examples… my simple answer will be that the court [Supreme Court] is one out of 400 courts, the [Supreme Court] is the ultimate voice and whenever the courts act whether it’s a high court, the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court acts using the tool of contempt it is to ensure that the justice system is not scandalised beyond boundaries.
On whether the practice [contempt of court] is not a barrier to freedom of expression, she said: “The tool of holding for contempt is an aged-long tool. It is one of the tools that the court has been given to ensure that the peace and stability of the nation is not jeopardised and I would be very careful to have a problem with any of the tools that the court has been given to administer justice.
Torkornoo was nominated to the Supreme Court in November 2019 and received parliamentary approval in December 2019.