IN FOCUS :The Courts’ Role article by kwabena duah duffour
“The Sovereignty of Ghana resides in the people of Ghana in whose name and for whose welfare the powers of government are to be exercised in a manner and within the limits laid down in this Constitution” as established by the 1992 Constitution, article 1(1). This provision means that any arm of government is under the legal obligation to act in a manner that is not prejudicial to the peace and security of the citizen for in them power emanates from. For the benefit of my cheerful readers, the arms of government are the controllers of the administration of a state and they are: the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. Each arm of government has specific roles it plays in steering the affairs of a country. The Judicial arm of government is the focus of this article particularly their role in dispute settlement
The Courts’ Role article by kwabena duah duffour is to enlightens the general public knowledge on the role of the law courts, the judiciary authority or the Law interpreters, how one can seek redress when he or she rights is infringed upon by fellow being.
Article 125(1) of the 1992 Constitution: Justice emanates from the people and shall be administered in the name of the Republic by the Judiciary which shall be independent and subject only to this Constitution. This would mean that the Judiciary is under a legal obligation to make sure that every citizen is treated fairly and equally. Thus their fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution upheld. As many authors also put it, the Judicial arm of government is charged with the duty of settling disputes among the citizens of Ghana and between the citizens and the State. They also seek to interpret the law to enhance good governance: “Ignorance of the law is no excuse”.
So one may ask, what consists of the Judiciary? Since the Constitution seeks to protect the interest of the citizens, this question has been clearly answered under article 126. The Judiciary consists of the superior courts and the lower courts; the superior courts are
- The Supreme Court
- The Court of Appeal and
- The High Court
Judicial powers are vested in the judiciary and have the power to take final judicial decisions. Thus they have jurisdiction in all matters civil and criminal.
- Civil wrongs are private wrongs which injure the individual
- Criminal wrong are those injurious to the society as a whole.
The citizen of Ghana has the right to go to court without any hindrance. If the right of a citizen is infringed upon, the court is the best medium to address such issue. Thus that citizen could bring a suit to court particularly the High Court under article 33 of the 1992 Constitution which states that ‘where a person alleges that a provision of this Constitution on the fundamental human rights and freedom has been, or is being or is likely to be contravened in relation to him, then without prejudice to any other action that is lawfully available, that person may apply to the High Court for redress’. This provision deals specifically with a violation of a person’s personal right. That is to say that if P does an act that brings disrepute to T’s dignity (a clear violation of article 15(1) then T has the right to bring an action to the High Court because it has jurisdiction on human rights. However, irrespective of the jurisdiction of the High Court, the Supreme Court also has exclusive original jurisdiction in all matters relation to the enforcement and interpretation of of the Constitution and determine act considered as ultra vires.
This exclusive original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court guarantees the protection of the citizen’s right. A person may bring an action against a person for infringing upon the rights of another by violating a provision in the Constitution to the Supreme Court under article 2(1) of the 1992 Constitution;
2; 1) A person who alleges that –
(a) an enactment or anything contained in or done under the authority of that or any other enactment; or
(b) any act or omission of any person;
is inconsistent with, or is in contravention of a provision of this Constitution, may bring an action in the Supreme Court for a declaration to that effect.
This was well established in the cases of; Adjei-Ampofo(No.1) v Accra Metropolitan Assembly & Attorney General(No.1)[2007-2008]2SCGLR 613 and Federation of Youth Association Of Ghana v The Public Universities of Ghana & Ors.
The courts award damages to persons affected in a dispute and met out punishment to offenders. This solidifies the trust and assurance of the Judiciary to protect the rights and freedoms of the Ghanaian citizen.
Source: kwabena duah duffour