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STATE PETITIONED TO APPOINT MORE JUDGES

THE Institute of Law, Policy Research and Human Rights Limited has petitioned the Constitutional Court to compel the Judicial Service Commission to immediately process the appointment of Judges in the superior courts.

In its petition, the institute is seeking an order that the inability or failure by the JSC to identify and recommend those who are qualified to be appointed as Judges of the Supreme, ConCourt, Court of Appeal and High Court is unconstitutional , thus unlawful.

The petition is seeking an order of mandamus compelling the JSC to immediately identify and recommend those who are qualified to the said superior courts to fill all vacancies in order to comply with the Republican constitution (amendment) Act no.2 of 2016 and the superior courts (number of Judges) Act no.9 of 2016.

Attorney General Kabesha Mulilo has been cited as the respondent in the matter. The institute stated that whereas the stipulated maximum number of Supreme Court and ConCourt is 13 each, the constitution does not state the minimum number of Judges for the Court of Appeal and the High Court.

“The constitution does not stipulate the minimum number of Judges for the Court of Appeal as case is with the Supreme and ConCourts, however, the superior courts (number of judges) act makes it mandatory for Court of Appeal to have the minimum number of 19 judges which include the judge president and the deputy Judge president as the number of the judges the court,” it stated.

The petitioner stated that according to the Superior Courts Act, it is mandatory for the High Court to have a maximum number of 60 Judges beside the Chief Justice as an ex officio judge. It stated that the current composition of Judges is Supreme Court -10, ConCourt – eight, Court of Appeal -13 and the High Court – 52. “The Judicial Service Commission mandated to identify those qualified to become judges and recommend the same for appointment as judges, have neglected that constitutional duty.

Over four months in office, President Hakainde Hichilema and his new dawn government have failed to appoint the requisite number of judges of the superior courts to meet the minimum threshold required thus perpetuating the illegalities of his predecessor,” the institute stated.

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