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Judicial Commission reprimands ConCourt judgesBy Elias Banda on 15 Mar 2017
The Judicial Complainants Commission has reprimanded ConCourt judges over their demand that members of the Public should not be allowed to complain against Constitutional Court officials.
In its ruling, the Judicial Complaints Commission emphasised that any Zambian judge under the Republican Constitution can be queried by the Zambian people if their conduct was found to be questionable.
After the August 2016 general elections, Chirundu member of parliament Douglas Syakalima, and six others filed a complained against Constitutional Court judges Mungeni Mulenga, Hildah Chibomba, Annie Sitali, professor Margaret Munalula and Palan Mulonda.
The complainants charged that the said ConCourt judges conducted themselves in an unprofessional manner when handling the presidential election petition.
But the ConCourt led by its president Chibomba, wrote to the Judicial Complainants Commission requesting that the complaint against them be thrown away because the individuals concerned had no right to be heard.
The judges through State Counsel Vincent Malambo and Eness Chiyenge contended that the complaints advanced were not legally valid and could not therefore be investigated or heard by the Commission.
Attorney General Likando Kalaluka also supported the ConCourt judges, arguing that the Commission did not need to make a precedent where any member of the public would be at liberty to complain contrary to the provisions of section 27 (1) (b) of the Act and the Constitution.
But the Judicial Complainants Commission threw out the ConCourt application instead, and guided that it was misconceived because members of the public had a constitutional right to lodge such a complaint and to defend the constitution.
The Commission contended that under the current law, a Zambian judge could be queried by the Zambian people even on matters pertaining to the discharge of judicial functions.
Further, the Commission comprising chairperson Geoffrey Simukoko, judge Christopher Mushabati and Nixon Banda said Article 236 of the constitution states that judges and judicial officers are accountable to the people for their functions.
“The clause enjoins the commission to receive complaints lodged against a judge or judicial officer and to hear a complaint against a judge. It is clear that not only are judges and judicial officers constitutionally accountable to the people, but the people have been appropriately empowered to lodge complaints against judges,” read the ruling in part.
The Commission also noted that Article 118 of the constitution provided that the judicial authority of the Republic of Zambia derived its mandate from the people of Zambia.
“All in all, we are satisfied that members of the public are empowered under the republican constitution to file complaints against judges and judicial officers. The complaints herein have locus standi in the inquiries before us. The application by the respondents is therefore dismissed,” the Commission ruled.
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