By PRAVIN BOWRY
Delays in writing judgements and rulings have resulted in at least two otherwise reputable and hardworking judges being sent home by the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board. Greater examination of the reasons for delay in writing judgements is called for.
It would have helped if an audit of the concerned judges were made public – how many cases came up before them, how many they finalised and delivered judgements.
It must be appreciated that in every single case where judgement was delayed there were and must have been a Plaintiff, a Defendant, and in most cases two lawyers representing each party.
And what happened to the elaborate system of checks and balances – by way of daily, monthly and yearly returns by the judicial officers?
What were the reasons of the parties to the suits not raising the alarm and equally the lawyers representing the parties remaining silent.
Ironically, judges found guilty of delay must be lauded for hearing the cases in the first instance as there have been cases of judges who are so lethargic they never begin a case and devise the most unusual and feeble reasons for adjourning the cases, usually with very famous words “Stood Over Generally” – a term which few lay people understand.
By law, in civil cases it is mandatory for the court to pronounce a judgment or ruling within 60 days, and if this is not done, the judge must record the reasons and notify the Chief Justice of the reasons.
Has the Chief Justice failed too?
Parties to the suit did not complain because, up to the time the new Constitution came into force, there was no law where a litigant could complain and because the act of complaining itself means inviting the wrath of an adverse decision.
In most cases the cost and time for a retrial would become phenomenal – complaining against a delayed judgment is like going from a frying pan into the fire.
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