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Majority Leader, Alexander Kwamena Afenyo-Markin, has indicated that common sense requires the addition of more judges to the current number at the Supreme Court considering the number of cases filed at the apex court each year.

Making comparison between Ghana and other advanced democracies such as the United States and the United Kingdom, the Majority Leader noted that the operations of the Supreme Courts in the respective jurisdictions are different.

His statement comes in light of comments from a section of the public expressing opposing views over the decision to increase the number of judges at the country’s apex court.

Chief Justice Gertrude Araba Esaaba Torkonoo, has recommended some five judges to the President to consider for appointment to the highest court of the land.

This, she said, was due to the piling up of cases at the court which requires the services of lawyers to cater for them. Currently, the Supreme Court is made up of 15 judges, meaning the approval of the five nominees will shoot the number up to 20.

Many have issued concerns indicating the size of the number, with some making comparison with the United States whose Supreme Court has less than 10 judges. Others have also said it is not within the remit of the CJ to unilaterally suggest appointments for the Supreme Court to the President.

But the Effutu MP at a press conference in Accra Monday, July 08, 2024, indicated that it is reasonable to add more to the numbers in Ghana due to the pile up of cases at the Supreme Court unlike the other places people are making comparisons with.

“Ghana’s Supreme Court receives not less than 700 cases in a year. What must catch people’s attention is that, unlike the US, where the Supreme Court exercises discretion to hear some of the cases it receives provided they meet a certain threshold. Ghana’s Supreme Court is required by law to hear every single case brought before it without any consideration. Amongst the two Supreme Courts, Ghana’s Supreme Court is almost always inundated and that, common sense requires more numbers in our apex court.

“As it stands now, Nigeria, has increased the number of its Supreme Court Judges from Twenty (20) to Twenty-four (24) to manage the work load for effective dispensation of the cases before them. It is worth emphasizing the fact that, even in the United kingdom, only 80 to 100 cases are heard in a year by their Supreme Court which has a limited jurisdiction as compared to Ghana.

“The Supreme Court of Ghana received Nine hundred 900) cases in 2021. At the end of 2021, they were able to hear six hundred cases. In the United States, such cases would have to be horned or sieved to only eighty(80) in a year. This reduces the burden and pressure on their Supreme Court.

“By the virtue of our constitutional architecture, every case in the Supreme Court of Ghana would have to be heard in its merit being an appeal or motion. The United Kingdom has one Supreme Court that serves as the final court of appeal for civil cases and criminal cases from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

“The Supreme Court also serves as the highest court in Scotland, although its jurisdiction is limited to civil matters as Scotland has its own criminal law and judicial system. Unlike Ghana, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is not limited to civil matters alone .

“The point must however be made clear that in Ghana, our Supreme Court is a constitutional court and for that matter, when any matter in any court touches on constitutional interpretation, the court below is obliged to refer same to the Supreme Court for same to be determined as as seen in the The Republic v Maikankan, Republic v Baffoe Bonnie and others.

“The reference jurisdiction of the Supreme Court alone is enough of a task that requires some serious addition(s) in terms of numbers. No court burdened with such task will continue to maintain its minimum number. Additional hands would definitely be needed and that is what is being done at the moment.

“It is important to underscore the fact, that our Supreme Court exercises both concurrent and exclusive original jurisdiction in all matters with the exception of Human Right Violations that are personal in nature as was held in Edusei v Attorney General.

“It must also be noted that, amongst the common law jurisdictions, Ghana’s Supreme Court is the only court that supervises all the High Courts in the entire country by virtue of our constitutional architecture. Such a herculean task cannot effectively be discharged by only fifteen judges as we currently have,” he explained.

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