Wednesday, July 17, 2019

District Tribunals Should Be Independent Of The Executive


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According to section 120 subsection (3) of the Constitution,

“In the exercise of their judicial functions, the courts, the judges and other holders of judicial office shall be independent and shall be subject only to this Constitution and the law, and, save as provided in this Chapter, shall not be subject to the control or direction of any other person or authority.”

The District Tribunal Act empowers the Governor (previously called Divisional Commissioner), who serves the executive, to review and reverse decisions of district tribunals or refer them to group tribunals appointed by the Governor. This archaic arrangement is not consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution which states in its preamble that,

“The functions of the arms of government [of the Constitution] have been clearly defined, their independence amply secured with adequate checks and balances to ensure that they all work harmoniously together toward our common good.”

New Gambia does not deserve such a judicial system and the District Tribunal Act needs to be reviewed. If there are issues with the functioning of any district tribunal, that is a matter for the office of the chief justice to handle as provided for in section 120 of the constitution thus:

“The Chief Justice shall be the head of the Judiciary and, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, shall be responsible for the administration and supervision of the courts.”

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