First, what does independent Judiciary mean? It means a Judicial arm which is free from the interference of other arms of government (Executive arm and Legislative arm). Is judicial independence important? Yes, it is important. We shall see the importance in details below.
Other arms of government are independent but the Judiciary is not. The most common reason behind this, is that both the Executive and the Legislative arms are constituted through election but the Judiciary is by appointment.
For the past years, advocations have been going on for the Judicial Independence to be granted but it has not been successful. However, there are some arguments for and against the granting of Judicial Independence.
In this article, we shall look at what the Judicial Independence is all about and the essential requirements needed for it to stand independent of other arms of government. We shall also look at few arguments for and against the Independence of the Judiciary.
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What is Independence of the Judiciary all about?
Like I said in the introduction, Judicial Independence is a term which advocates that the Judicial branch of government should be free from the interference of other branches of the government.
The Judiciary should be free from other arms of government. Neither the Executive nor the Legislature should interfere with the Judges or Courts. The judges should work freely without the interference of other arms of government to enable them dispense justice without fear or favour.
Why is Judicial Independence important?
Important: This subheading can also be seen to be the arguments in favour of the Independence of the Judicial organ.
There are many reasons why it is important for the court to be on its own. These are the reasons below:
To enable the Judiciary work freely
Adminstering justice without fear or favour is the major reason why the Judiciary should be independent. Unless the judiciary is independent it will not be able to give judgements impartially. Once there’s lack of impartiality in the judiciary, it means that the tag “the court is the last hope of a common man“, is bastardized.
Furthermore, since the Judges emerge by appointment, it means the appointee will, in one way or the other, influence their decisions. On the part of the judges, they may want to please the one who appointed them into the position possibly, because of one political reason or the other.
To make the Judicial arm independent as other arms are
There are three arms of government – the Legislature, Executive and the Judicial arms. The Legislature and executive are independent. On that note, the Judiciary should also be independent. Since it’s a claim that all are equal, they should be equal also in terms of Independence.
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How to ensure Independence of the Judiciary
For the Judicial arm to be completely independent, somethings must be done.
Appointment of Justices, Judges and Magistrate should not be the function of the Executive. Instead, neutral bodies like the National Judicial Council should do it. Through this way, the executive won’t be able to influence the Judicial.
Renumeration | Judicial Independence
The salaries and allowances of the Judiciary should be out of control of other arms. The Judiciary should get their salaries and allowances from the consolidated account.
Promotion of Judges
A neutral body should promote the Judges. If it is done by any other arm of government, the judges will try in one way or the other to favour the party that promoted him during judgements. That should never be as such.
Free from politics | Judicial Independence
No memebr of the legislature should be a member of a political party. Reason being that, during judgements, the judge may want to favour his own party.
In other words, he may give partial judgement due to one political promise or the other. So, the members should be nonpartisan.
Security of tenure
One of the functions of the Executive arm is that it can remove the Justice or Judge. For the Judiciary to be completely independent, there should be no room for such. No one should have the power to remove the judge.
No one would want to lose his comfortable position for any reason. Even the judges will not like to lose their positions of being Judges. So, they will always give partial judgements so that they won’t be removed from office. For instance, the late president of Ghana, Dr. Nkrumah had the power to dismiss judges. This actually made judges act under fear when passing judgements that would be against him.
Disadvantages/Arguments against Judicial independence
This subheading discusses the benefits of not granting self-government (Independence) to the Judiciary.
The Judicial members may become partisans
One of the reasons the Judiciary may not be allowed to be that free is to ensure it doesn’t, at any stage, join politics. Political interest will go along way to influence its judgements. So, to keep it away from that, it should be done through appointment and not election.
Overriding Judicial powers
The law is powerful. In fact, it is supreme. The lawyers and judges are advocates of the law. And one with such powers of the law can do and undo many things. So, to ensure that the Judiciary doesn’t interpret the law in a way it will favour it’s interest, it has to be under another arm of government.
If it becomes independent, it will always use the law to cover itself by interpreting it to its own favour.
Conclusion | Judicial Independence
The Judicial arm of government is the last hope of a common man. The essence of it is to save citizens from hardships which they may suffer from the government or from fellow citizens. But in a case where an arm of government begins to influence the decisions of the Judiciary, it will definitely hinder the essence of it.
Looking at the reasons why we should have independent Judiciary, it overrides the disadvantages. So, it should be granted.
On the other hand, to ensure that its disadvantages are taken care of, neutral bodies should come up to sanction it anytime it mismanages its powers instead of leaving it to the Executive.