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The independence of the judiciary under the 1960 republican constitution of Ghana

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The 1960 republican constitution of Ghana made provisions for the establishment of a judiciary after the coming into effect of the constitution. It provided that there must be High Courts and Lower Courts. It also decided the types of cases that each category of courts can adjudicate in. The constitution provided that the courts must settle disputes, interpret the laws of the land; punish those who break the law among other things. In order for the judiciary to be protected enough for them to diligently perform their functions, the constitution provided for their protection. The prescriptions that the 1960 constitution provided for the protection of the judiciary are discussed below.

Determination of salaries
In order to ensure the independence of the judiciary, the 1960 republican constitution provided that the legislature must determine the salaries, allowances, and gratuities of the judiciary. Ordinarily, this should put the judiciary at the mercy of the legislature but the constitution further provided that once the salaries are determined; they cannot be varied again to the detriment of the judiciary. If there should be any adjustment at all, it can only be done upwards.

Appointment, Promotion, and dismissal
The 1960 constitution made provisions for one of the judges of the Supreme Court to be appointed as the Chief Justice by the president of the republic. The constitution also provided that by an instrument of the President Seal, the Chief Justice’s appointment could be revoked.

Another way in which the 1960 republican constitution ensured the independence of the judiciary was that their salaries and allowances were to be paid from the Consolidated Fund. Consolidated Fund is the term that is commonly used to refer to the main account of the government. The government’s receivables are paid into this account. It is out of this account that the salaries and allowances of the judges were to be paid.

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Tenure of office
If the judiciary is assured of their job, that they cannot be sacked from office for no apparent reason, it helps them to feel secure. The 1960 republican constitution made provisions for the secured tenure of the judiciary. Under the constitution, only the president of the republic could dismiss a judge. However, the president could only do that after a resolution of the National Assembly and supported by 2/3 of the Members. Even then, this could only happen upon stated misbehavior.

The entrenchment of the clause on the security of judges
Also, the independence of the judiciary was ensured by the entrenchment of the relevant clauses on the security of the judges. The constitution further provided that if any of the entrenched clauses were to be reviewed, it must be determined in a national referendum.

Separation from other arms of government
In order to ensure the independence of the judiciary under the 1966 republican constitution of Ghana, the judiciary was separated from the other organs of government such as the legislature and the executive. In the exception of the president also being a member of the National Assembly, the three arms of government were separated under the constitution. No member of the executive or the legislature was a member of the judiciary. This ensured that the judiciary was independent.

1. How did the 1960 republican constitution ensure the independence of the judiciary?


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