-office of Chairman
Citing the shortage of magistrates among other issues, the office of the Chairman of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) yesterday appealed for those with responsibility for recommending or making appointments to the body to “meaningfully engage” to fill the vacancies.
A release from the office of the Chairman, Chancellor of the Judiciary, Carl Singh said that any further delay in constituting the JSC “will compound the difficulties already faced by an overburdened judicial system”.
The composition of the JSC has come under close scrutiny recently since it was revealed that it did not have all of its members at the time that Justice of Appeal Rabi Sukul was appointed last year. Justice Sukul was asked to resign in February this year by Chancellor Singh and did so after it was revealed that he had been disbarred by the Bar of England and Wales. Three ex-officio members including Chancellor Singh made the appointment of Justice Sukul. There can be at least three other members of the JSC based on various consultations which were not done. The life of the JSC has since expired and it has to be reconstituted.
Under the constitution, one of the JSC members must be a retired judge appointed by the President after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. Not less than one or more than two JSC members are to be appointed on the recommendation of the National Assembly after it has consulted with bodies representative of the legal profession. Neither of these two consultations was done for the now expired JSC neither have they yet been done for the new body that is to be composed.
The JSC press release noted that the media has recently “correctly pointed to a shortage of Magis-trates in certain magisterial districts and the resulting inconvenience caused to lawyers and litigants alike, together with a concomitant increase in the number of unheard cases in these courts”.
The release said that the shortage of magistrates is just one of the many adverse consequences of there not being a fully constituted JSC.
In addition the release noted that since November, 2013 the Land Court in Georgetown has been without a Commissioner of Title as the last Commissioner reached the age of retirement and demitted office. The release said that the number of applications intended for hearing before the Commissioner of Title is growing significantly and while there are applications for appointment to this office, these applications cannot be deliberated upon because of the JSC vacancies. Further, disciplinary matters involving persons who come under the supervision of the JSC are in abeyance.
“An appeal is therefore made, for those constitutionally tasked with the responsibility of recommending or making appointments to the Judicial Service Commis-sion to meaningfully engage with a view to filling the vacancies which exist in the membership of that Commission. Further delay in constituting the Judicial Service Commis-sion will compound the difficulties already faced by an overburdened judicial system”, the release said.