Supreme Court of Ghana

The Supreme Court of Ghana is the highest judicial body in Ghana.[1] Ghana's 1992 constitution guarantees the independence and separation of the Judiciary from the Legislative and the Executive arms of government.[2]

Supreme Court of Ghana
Aerial view of the Supreme Court Buildings
Map
5°32′43.8072″N 0°12′17.3736″W / 5.545502000°N 0.204826000°W / 5.545502000; -0.204826000
Established1876; 148 years ago (1876)
LocationAccra, Ghana
Coordinates5°32′43.8072″N 0°12′17.3736″W / 5.545502000°N 0.204826000°W / 5.545502000; -0.204826000
Composition methodPresidential nomination, in consultation with the Council of State and with Parliamentary confirmation and approval
Authorized bySupreme Court Ordinance, 1876 and Constitution of Ghana, 1992
Judge term lengthMandatory retirement at age 70
Number of positionsA minimum of 9
WebsiteThe Judicial Service of Ghana
Chief Justice of Ghana
CurrentlyGertrude Torkornoo
Since12 June 2023


The Supreme Court of Ghana has the final say on legal matters and can overturn lower court decisions. The Court consists of nine justices and hears cases on a wide range of issues, including criminal law, civil law, and administrative law.[3]  

History

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The Supreme Court was established by the Supreme Court Ordinance (1876) as the highest tribunal in the Gold Coast (now Ghana) during the colonial era.[4]

Until 1960, there was a right of appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, England.

On July 2, 2013, the Supreme Court sentenced the editor of the Daily Search light newspaper, Ken Kuranchie, to 10 days in prison for calling the 9 Justices hypocritical and selective.[5] After the parliament of Ghana passed a bill allowing the cultivation of weed in the country in 2022, the Supreme Court in May 2023 struck out the cannabis cultivation bill by a 5-4 majority.[6][7]

Role and Jurisdiction

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The Supreme Court of Ghana plays a critical role in the country's legal framework. Its jurisdiction extends to a wide range of matters, including:

  • Constitutional Interpretation: The Supreme Court has the authority to interpret the provisions of the Constitution of Ghana. This is a vital function as it ensures that the Constitution remains a living document that adapts to the changing needs of the nation.
  • Presidential Election Petitions: In the event of disputes arising from presidential elections, the Supreme Court is vested with the power to adjudicate such matters and determine the validity of election results. One of the most notable cases was the 2012 presidential election petition, where the court upheld the election of President John Dramani Mahama.[8] This case demonstrated the court's commitment to ensuring the integrity of Ghana's electoral process.
  • Appellate Jurisdiction: The Supreme Court serves as the highest appellate court in Ghana, hearing appeals from lower courts on a variety of legal issues.

Current status

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Aerial view of the Supreme Court building.
 
Front view of the Supreme Court building.

The 1992 constitution stipulates that the Supreme Court is made up of the Chief Justice of Ghana and not less than nine other Justices of the Supreme Court.[9] Is the final court of appeal and has jurisdiction over matters relating to the enforcement or the interpretation of constitutional law. The Chief Justice is appointed by the President of Ghana acting in consultation with the Council of State and with the approval of the country's Parliament.[10] The other Supreme Court Justices are appointed by the President acting on the advice of the Judicial Council and in consultation with the Council of State. This must also be with the approval of Parliament.[11] The 1992 Constitution abolished all the public tribunals established under the PNDC and created the Regional Tribunal whose chairman was equated with the High Court judges.[12]There is no limit on the number of judges appointed to the Supreme Court. There have been calls for there to be a cap on the number but various judges advised against it due to the demands on the court by the 1992 constitution.[13] The Court of Appeal, which includes the chief justice and not fewer than five other judges, has jurisdiction to hear and to determine appeals from any judgment, decree, or High Court of Justice order.[14] The High Court of Justice, which consists of the chief justice and not fewer than twelve other justices, has jurisdiction in all matters, civil and criminal, other than those involving treason.

The current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana is Gertrude Torkornoo.

Justices of the Supreme Court

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The following is a list of the judges of the Supreme Court.[15][16] In July 2018, President Nana Akufo-Addo appointed four new judges to the Supreme Court. They were Samuel K. Marful-Sau and Agnes M.A Dordzie, both Justices of the Appeal Court, Nii Ashie Kotey, a former Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Ghana and Nene A. O. Amegatcher, a lawyer in private practice who also a former president of the Ghana Bar Association.[17] One of the longest-serving judges of the Court, William Atuguba retired in the same month. He had been on the Supreme Court after being nominated by Jerry Rawlings in November 1995[18][19] until July 2018.[20] The last female Chief Justice was Sophia Akuffo. She was the last Supreme Court Judge appointed by Jerry Rawlings to retire. She retired on 20 December 2019 and was replaced by Kwasi Anin-Yeboah on 7 January 2020. In December 2019, President Akufo-Addo appointed three new judges to the Supreme Court. They were Mariama Owusu, Avril Lovelace-Johnson, and Gertrude Tokornoo.[21] They were to replace Vida Akoto-Bamfo, Sophia Adinyira, and Sophia Akuffo who had either retired or were due to retire.[22]

List of Justices of the Supreme Court of Ghana[23]
Judge Date Appointed Length of service Appointed by
Gertrude Torkornoo
(Chief Justice)
17 December 2019[21] 4 years, 5 months Nana Akufo-Addo
Paul Baffoe-Bonnie 11 June 2008[24] 16 years John Kufuor
Gabriel Pwamang 29 June 2015[25] 8 years, 11 months John Mahama
Mariama Owusu 17 December 2019[21] 5 years, 11 months Nana Akufo-Addo
Avril Lovelace-Johnson 17 December 2019[21] 4 years, 5 months Nana Akufo-Addo
Issifu Omoro Tanko Amadu 22 May 2020[26][27] 4 years Nana Akufo-Addo
Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu 26 May 2020[28] 4 years Nana Akufo-Addo
Yonny Kulendi 26 May 2020[28] 4 years Nana Akufo-Addo
Barbara Ackah-Yensu 28 December 2022[29] 1 year, 5 months Nana Akufo-Addo
Samuel Adibu Asiedu 28 December 2022 [29] 1 year, 5 months Nana Akufo-Addo
George Kingsley Koomson 5 April 2023 1 year, 2 months Nana Akufo-Addo
Ernest Gaewu 5 April 2023 1 year, 2 months Nana Akufo-Addo
Henry Anthony Kwofie 3 January 2024 5 months Nana Akufo-Addo
Yaw Darko Asare 3 January 2024 5 months Nana Akufo-Addo
Richard Adjei-Frimpong 3 January 2024 5 months Nana Akufo-Addo

List of chief justices of the Supreme Court

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Since its inception in 1876, the Supreme Court has had 27 chief justices.[30]

List of chief justices of the Gold Coast and Ghana
Chief Justice Time frame Period
Sir David Patrick Chalmers 1876–1878 Gold Coast
P. A. Smith 1878–1879 Gold Coast
Sir James Marshall 1880–1882 Gold Coast
N. Lessingham Bailey 1882–1886 Gold Coast
H. W. Macleod 1886–1889 Gold Coast
Joseph Turner Hutchinson[31] 1889 - 1894 Gold Coast
Francis Smith (acting) 1894 - 1895 Gold Coast
Sir William Brandford Griffith 1895–1911 Gold Coast
Philip Crampton Smyly 1911–1928 Gold Coast
Sir George Campbell Deane 1929–1935 Gold Coast
Sir Philip Bertie Petrides 1936–1943 Gold Coast
Sir Walter Harrangin 1943–1947 Gold Coast
Sir Mark Wilson 1948–1956 Gold Coast
Sir Kobina Arku Korsah 1956–1963 Gold Coast (1956 – 6 Mar 1957)
Dominion of Ghana1st Republic of Ghana (6 Mar 1957 – 1963)
J. Sarkodee-Addo 1964–1966 1st Republic
Edward Akufo-Addo 1966–1970 military rule[32] (1966–1969)
2nd Republic (1969–1970)
Edmund Alexander Lanquaye Bannerman 1970 -1972 2nd Republic[33]
Samuel Azu Crabbe 1973–1977 military rule[34]
Fred Kwasi Apaloo 1977–1986 military rule (1977–1979)
3rd Republic[12] (24 Sep 1979-31 Dec 1981)
[35] military rule[12] (31 Dec 1981–1986)
E. N. P. Sowah 1986–1990 military rule
Nicholas Yaw Boafo Adade (acting) 1990–1991 military rule
Philip Edward Archer 1991–1995 military rule (1991–1993)
4th Republic (1993–1995)
Isaac Kobina Abban 1995 – 21 April 2001 4th Republic
Edward Kwame Wiredu 2001–2003 4th Republic
George Kingsley Acquah 4 July 2003 – 25 March 2007 4th Republic
Georgina Theodora Wood [36] 15 June 2007 – 8 June 2017 4th Republic
Sophia Akuffo 19 June 2017 – 20 December 2019 4th Republic
Kwasi Anin-Yeboah 7 January 2020[37] – 24 May 2023 4th Republic
Gertrude Torkornoo 6 June 2023 – 4th Republic

Martyrs of the Rule of Law

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On 30 June 1982, during the curfew hours, three High Court Judges and a retired Army Officer, namely: Mr. Justice Frederick Poku Sarkodee, Mrs. Justice Cecilia Koranteng-Addow, Mr. Justice Kwadwo Agyei Agyepong and Major (Rtd) Sam Acquah were abducted from their homes and brutally murdered at the Bundase Military Range in the Accra Plains.[38][39] The unfortunate victims' bodies were then doused in gasoline and set ablaze.[38] The bodies were saved from total destruction by divine intervention in the form of a light rain that put out the fire.[38]

These distinguished judges paid the ultimate price for their unwavering commitment to the rule of law and the fair administration of justice.[38]

The Ghanaian judicial system honours them each year on Martyrs Day, the day commemorating their passing.[39] This memorial is meant to serve as a source of inspiration for us as a nation as we rededicate ourselves individually and collectively to the beloved goals and principles on whose altar they made the ultimate sacrifice: Lest We Forget.[38]

Critical assessment

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Corruption

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Controversies

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Former President John Dramani Mahama in September 2022 criticized the Registrar of the Supreme Court for not setting a date to hear an application seeking an interlocutory injunction. This application aims to halt the Electoral Commission's limited voter registration until a final decision is made on a lawsuit challenging the choice of venues for the exercise.[40][41]

See also

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References

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  1. ^ "Ghanaian criminal court system". Association of Commonwealth Criminal Lawyers. Archived from the original on 12 January 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  2. ^ 1992 Constitution Article 125(1). "Justice emanates from the people and shall be administered in the name of the Republic by the Judiciary which shall be independent and subject only to this Constitution."
  3. ^ "Supreme Court of Ghana, Biography". www.ghanaweb.com. Retrieved 28 September 2023.
  4. ^ Hofstedt, Matthew (July 2014). "Afterword: A brief history of Supreme Court messengers". Journal of Supreme Court History. 39 (2): 259–263. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5818.2014.12045.x. ISSN 1059-4329. S2CID 143325855.
  5. ^ Online, Peace FM. "Supreme Court Jails Atubiga And Ken Kuranchie". Peacefmonline.com - Ghana news. Retrieved 12 July 2023.
  6. ^ "Ghana: Supreme Court strikes out cannabis cultivation bill". www.mmjdaily.com. 29 May 2023. Retrieved 12 July 2023.
  7. ^ "Supreme Court erred in its decision to cancel 'wee law' - NPP MP". GhanaWeb. 11 July 2023. Retrieved 12 July 2023.
  8. ^ "Ghana Supreme Court upholds John Mahama's win". BBC News. 29 August 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2023.
  9. ^ "1992 Constitution:Article 128(1)". Ghana Review International. Archived from the original on 1 April 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2007. The Supreme Court shall consist of the Chief Justice and not less than nine other Justices of the Supreme Court.
  10. ^ Ghana Constitution:Article 144 clause 1 "The Chief Justice shall be appointed by the President acting in consultation with the Council of State and with the approval of Parliament."
  11. ^ 1992 Constitution:Article 144 clause 2 "The other Supreme Court Justices shall be appointed by the President acting on the advice of the Judicial Council, in consultation with the Council of State and with the approval of Parliament."
  12. ^ a b c "Historical Development of the Courts After Independence". Official Website. Judicial Service of Ghana. p. 3. Archived from the original on 6 October 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2007.
  13. ^ Justice Agbenorsi (8 December 2022). "Don't cap Supreme Court judges - Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo proposes". Graphic Online. Accra: Graphic Communications Group Limited. Retrieved 30 May 2023.
  14. ^ "Supreme Court Republic of Ghana". mobile.ghanaweb.com. Retrieved 13 September 2023.
  15. ^ "List of Judges of the Superior Court of Judicature". Official Website. Judicial Service of Ghana. Archived from the original on 18 October 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  16. ^ "The Judiciary – Justice of the Supreme aCourt". Ghana local government website. Min. of Local Govt., Rural Dev. & Environment & Maks Publications & Media Services. Archived from the original on 10 October 2007. Retrieved 19 April 2007.
  17. ^ "Akufo-Addo appoints 4 new Supreme Court Justices". GhanaWeb.com. GhanaWeb. 3 July 2018. Archived from the original on 28 August 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  18. ^ "Atuguba was an NPP parliamentary candidate in 1992 - Gabby reveals". Ghanaweb.com. Ghanaweb. 7 September 2013. Archived from the original on 5 August 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  19. ^ "Supreme Court adjourns ruling in Minority leader's case". Ghanaweb. 14 May 1998. Archived from the original on 28 August 2018. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  20. ^ "Justice William Atuguba retires after 44 years as a judge". GhanaWeb.com. GhanaWeb. 3 July 2018. Archived from the original on 28 August 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  21. ^ a b c d "Akufo-Addo swears in 46 judges". ghanaweb.com. GhanaWeb. 17 December 2019. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  22. ^ "Nana Addo nominates three new judges to Supreme Court". Ghanaweb.com. GhanaWeb. 12 November 2019. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  23. ^ "Supreme Court Judges". www.judicial.gov.gh. Retrieved 30 May 2023.
  24. ^ "Four new Supreme Court Judges Sworn In". General News of Wednesday, 11 June 2008. Ghana Home Page. Archived from the original on 14 June 2008. Retrieved 12 June 2008.
  25. ^ "Mahama swears in two Supreme Court Judges". Ghanaweb.com. Ghanaweb. 29 June 2017. Archived from the original on 2 January 2016. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  26. ^ "Amadu Tanko sworn in as first Muslim Supreme Court Justice". www.ghanaweb.com. GhanaWeb. 22 May 2020. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  27. ^ Dapatem, Donald Ato (23 May 2020). "President swears in 2 Justices of Supreme Court". Graphic Online. Accra. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  28. ^ a b "I'll serve Ghana – New SC judge Mensah Bonsu". www.ghanaweb.com. GhanaWeb. 26 May 2020. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  29. ^ a b "BusinessGhana". www.businessghana.com. Retrieved 2 January 2023.
  30. ^ "List of Chief Justices". Official Website. Judicial Service of Ghana. Archived from the original on 22 June 2008. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  31. ^ Peile, John (2014). Biographical Register of Christ's College, 1505–1905. Vol. 2. 1666–1905. Cambridge University Press. p. 611. ISBN 978-1-107-42606-1.
  32. ^ "Historical Development of the Courts after Independence". Official Website. Judicial Service of Ghana. p. 1. Archived from the original on 6 October 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2007.
  33. ^ "Historical Development of the Courts after Independence". Official Website. Judicial Service of Ghana. p. 2. Archived from the original on 6 October 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2007.
  34. ^ "History – Summary". Official Website. Judicial Service of Ghana. Archived from the original on 13 February 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2007.
  35. ^ The Supreme Court was left intact under this military regime. See note 5.
  36. ^ "Kpegah urges new Chief Justice to unite judges". General News of Friday, 15 June 2007. Ghana Home Page. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 16 June 2007.
  37. ^ "Parliament okays Justice Anin Yeboah as Chief Justice". ghanaweb.com. GhanaWeb. 24 December 2019. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  38. ^ a b c d e "Martyrs of the Rule of Law Historical Marker". www.hmdb.org. Retrieved 28 July 2023.
  39. ^ a b Tigo, Joshua (30 June 2020). "Today in History: Personalities behind three statues in front of Ghana's Sup". Adomonline.com. Retrieved 28 July 2023.
  40. ^ https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/politics/mahama-criticises-supreme-court-over-failure-to-set-hearing-date.html
  41. ^ Annang, Evans (5 September 2023). "Mahama's criticism of the judiciary is setting a dangerous precedent – Gary Nimako". Pulse Ghana. Retrieved 14 September 2023.
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