General News of Thursday, 28 April 2016
Corruption in the Judiciary
Less than a year after ace investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ exposé of massive corruption in Ghana’s Judiciary involving some high profile judges and judicial personnel; another trend of sleaze is fast gaining roots in the Judiciary Service.
Even as the Judiciary Council, under the able leadership of the Chief Justice, Mrs Georgina Theodora Wood is struggling to purge the judiciary of “bad nuts” after Anas’ recent inglorious revelation which shocked the conscience of the whole nation, court registrars and clerks have developed ingenious ways of milking litigants and lawyers dry, The aL-hAJJ’s investigations have uncovered.
In what could be described as deliberate attempts to frustrate the Chief Justice’s effort at cleaning the judiciary of miscreants; plaintiffs, complainants and attorneys are fuming over what they see as clever moves by court clerks and registrars to extort monies from them.
This paper has uncovered that there has been an unusual upsurge in recent times of mysterious disappearance of dockets and records at the various court registries in the country.
“It is becoming a norm these days to get to court only to be told by court clerks that your client’s docket or file cannot be traced at the registry,” a lawyer who pleaded anonymity disclosed to The aL-hAJJ.
This unfortunate sudden development is said to be creating tension amongst court registrars, litigants and lawyers. The litigants and lawyers are accusing court registrars of deliberating misplacing their files to frustrate them and extort money from them.
“What is happening at the courts these days is very strange and shameful. We don’t understand these sudden and rampant disappearances of files at the registries. This is unusual and we suspect people have found in it, a very smart lucrative job in misplacing files in order to milk litigants,” a peeved litigant whose file could not be traced in a recent encounter with this paper fumed.
Aside the frustration inherent in this practice and the inconveniences that one has to go through when litigating in courts in Ghana, another litigant said, “you are forced to pay additional money to the registrars to build a new file for you…you don’t have an option than to succumb to their demands. These files are misplaced by them and yet we are the ones being asked to pay for their carelessness,” he noted.
A court clerk at the Atta Mills Court Complex (name withheld) revealed to The aL-hAJJ that, two litigants who turned up at a High Court in Accra recently for judgment in their case had to leave in anger and frustration after they were told that the docket on the case was missing.
“It is very frustrating and painful after paying legal/filing fees, paying for transport, amidst adjournments with its associated inconveniences, only to be told that judgment could not be given in one’s case because the docket on the case was missing. Sometimes I share the sentiments of the litigants and their lawyers, especially when they are asked to pay additional money for new files,” the worried clerk posited.
Early this year, argument ensued between former Attorney General, Ayikoi Otoo and a court clerk at the High Court in Accra over a missing docket sent to the Registrar Department, (filing section) of the High Court in Accra for notice of motion for an order for Judicial Review by way of certiorari.
When he called the registrar via telephone at the Filing Section of an Accra High Court to verify why the docket was not brought to court at the appointed date, the registrar responded that the docket could not be found at the registry.
This awful action, which is said to be a common feature in almost all the courts in the country, this paper has gathered, is more prevalent at the newly built Atta Mills Memorial Court Complex in Accra. “It is a common practice here…all the lawyers know about it,” a frustrated litigant noted.