Virtual Kollage: The structure and functions of the Judiciary under the 1960 Republican constitution of Ghana

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The structure and functions of the Judiciary under the 1960 Republican constitution of Ghana

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THE STRUCTURE AND FUNCTIONS OF THE JUDICIARY UNDER THE 1960 REPUBLICAN CONSTITUTION OF GHANA
Introduction
The 1960 Republican constitution of Ghana made provisions for the judiciary as the third arm of government. There were the Superior Courts of judicature and the inferior courts. The structure and the functions of both the higher and the lower courts are discussed below.

STRUCTURE OF THE JUDICIARY UNDER THE 1960 CONSTITUTION
The constitution divided the courts into the High Courts and the Lower Courts. The higher courts were made up of the Supreme Courts and the High Courts. These two constituted the Supreme Courts of judicature. Then there were the lower courts made up of the Circuit Courts, District Courts, the Juvenile Courts and the Lower Courts.

The Supreme Court was the highest point of the judicial system under the 1960 constitution of Ghana. It was headed by a Chief Justice. Below the Supreme Court was the High Court which was a part of the Superior Court of Judicature. The High Court was made up of the Chief Justice, a judge requested by the Chief Justice or anybody appointed by the Judicial Service Act of the 1960 constitution. Such a person must not be a judicial or executive officer. This is followed by the Inferior Courts just below the High Court.

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FUNCTIONS OF THE JUDICIARY UNDER THE 1960 REPUBLICAN CONSTITUTION
Interpretation of the law
One of the functions of the judiciary under the republican constitution of Ghana was the interpretation of the constitution. This is because there are times when a misunderstanding can develop concerning the meaning of a provision of as aspect of the constitution and the judiciary was mandated by the 1960 constitution to give an interpretation of the relevant clause.

Settlement of disputes
The republican constitution also gave the judiciary the function of settling disputes between two parties. In every human interaction, conflicts cannot be avoided. Also, in the day to day operations of governmental institutions, error may occur and placed citizens at a disadvantage and this may create tension between an individual and state institutions.  The 1960 republican constitution empowered the judiciary to settle such and other issues restore peace.

Protect individual rights
Again, the judiciary was given the function of protecting the rights of Ghanaians within the framework of the law. Under the constitution, anybody who felt that his/her have been trampled upon could go to court for redress and the judiciary is empowered to ensure that the individual is protected.                                                              
As a check on the executive and the legislature
The judiciary under the 1960 constitution was also to serve as a check on the other organs of government such as the executive and the legislature. For example, the judiciary has the power of review with which it could quash any action(s) of the executive and the legislature if it violates the constitution of the land.

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Imposing penalties on offenders
Another function of the judiciary under the 1960 republican constitution was to impose penalties on offenders after they have been proven guilty by prosecutors. This function is mainly to rid the society of undesirable elements.

Advisory functions
The judiciary also offers a lot of judicial advice to the executive. For example, where the executive is about to enter into an agreement or treaty with an organization or another country, the terms of the agreement are sent to the judiciary to look at the legal implications of the clauses of the agreement. This was to ensure that Ghana was not short-changed. Sometimes also, a decision of the government could be sent to the Attorney-General for advice before it is implemented.

Ceremonial functions
It was also the function of the judiciary to perform some ceremonial duties. The judiciary under the 1960 republican constitution was responsible for swearing in the president of the republic. In addition, the judiciary oversaw the celebration of marriages and their dissolution thereof. They also performed the functions of a coroner, looking into the causes of death.

SAMPLE QUESTION(S)
1. a. Describe the structure of the judiciary under the 1960 republican constitution.
    b. Highlight four functions of the judiciary under the same constitution.


ALSO READ:
Functions and powers of the National Assembly under the 1960 Republican constitution of Ghana
Functions and powers of the president under the 1960 Republican constitution of Ghana

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