Parliament committee instructs to dismiss top court justices

Parliament's Judiciary Committee have voted to instruct Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to dismiss Supreme Court justices. The committee made the recommendation stating that the Supreme Court had transgressed beyond their jurisdiction, thereby violating the constitution.

JSC in August filed a report at the parliament citing 17 instances where Supreme Court justices had violated the constitution. The parliament committee evaluated the report and added seven additional cases of constitutional violation.

They include a judge of an interim Supreme Court sending letters signed as the Chief Justice, the decision to continue paying remuneration to the President's special members on the Parliament after the government was overthrown in 2008, the decision to annul the results of the 2013 presidential election, raising criminal charges against lawyers who exercised their freedom of expression and criticized the court, ordering death penalty on Hussain Humam for the murder of MP Dr Afrashim Ali despite the wishes of Afrashim's next of kin, issuing an order without the knowledge of then Chief Justice after the Parliament approved a no confidence motion against then-president of Civil Service Commission, and a self made decision deeming Supreme Court justices as permanent appointees during the interim Supreme Court after new constitution came into effect.

The commission considered the recommendations outlined in report titled 'Assessment of the Justice Sector Reform Proposals' prepared by South Africa's retired justice Johann Kriegler in pursuing further investigation. In his report, Kriegler had recommended to dismiss Supreme Court judges.

All four committee members voted during Sunday's committee meeting that their evaluation shows the Supreme Court's actions were not in line with the constitution.

"This committee cannot deem that the judges who was part of these Supreme Court actions were impartial and uninfluenced. While their qualifications and capability are questionable, these are grounds on which the judges can be dismissed. Therefore, we are requesting the Judicial Service Commission to evaluate these issues and take action against these judges based on the above reasons", the Judiciary Committee said.

The committee's decision comes at a time when several judges are being investigated by JSC. While JSC is investigating the issues outlined in the committee report, the judicial watchdog last week made the decision to probe the actions of Supreme Court's Chief Justice Dr. Ahmed Abdulla Didi, Judge Abdulla Areef and Justice Adam Mohamed. Summons have been sent to the judges.

While JSC has sent a summon to the Chief Justice, he has refused to present himself at the commission, and gave a statement against JSC to the media. In his statement, he alleged that the JSC was attempting to bring the judiciary under the control of certain group. He also said that JSC cannot investigate Supreme Court rulings. Following the statement, JSC has announced that the Chief Justice was attempting to cover up the truth, and said they will be investigating the matter as a separate disciplinary case.