President John Mahama has been dragged to court over illegal variation of gratuities of superior judges.
A Ghanaian citizen Emmanuel Noble Kor has filed a legal action against the Attorney General and Minister of Justice at the Supreme Court over the President’s "illegal" variation of gratuities of superior judges.
Mr Kor, in his writ, is praying the highest court of the land to invoke its original jurisdiction to grant seven reliefs including: "An order of perpetual injunction restraining the government of Ghana from calculating and paying gratuity to any superior court judge on the basis of the unlawful formula contained in the letter of the Chief of Staff dated 4th January 2013."
He believes the President, through that letter illegally varied recommendations made by the Ewurama Addy Committee as far as the calculation of gratuities of superior judges is concerned.
Mr Kor said: "With the coming into force of the 1992 Constitution, Article 71 (1) thereof provided a mechanism for determining, inter alia, the gratuities of Superior court judges. Pursuant to the said article 71 (1) of the Constitution the president of Ghana at various times has set up committees to make recommendations for determining the salaries, allowances and retiring benefits of Article 71 holders including Superior Court judges."
He said as far as that is concerned, different Committees have been set up in the past under different governments and presidents to determine the emoluments and gratuities of Article 71 office holders including superior judges.
The Greenstreet Committee was set up in 1993 which made recommendations under the Rawlings administration just as the Chinery-Hesse Committee made recommendations under the Kufuor administration in 2008 which were later reviewed by the Ishmael Yamson Committee that was later set up by President John Mills (late), who also set up the Ewurama Addy Committee in 2010 that presented its report in 2011 and recommended that judges at the Superior Court retire on their salary and have their gratuity computed with the formula: ‘period served ×GDP/per capital ×award points/100.’
In Mr Kor’s view, the Chinery-Hesse Committee was rushed through the approval process and thus could not be implemented because of “uncertainties, ambiguities, and doubts” surrounding it, a situation he contended cast doubts on the “authenticity” of the Committee’s recommendations.
He said the President unconstitutionally varied the gratuities and emoluments of judges when he, through his Chief of staff's letter accepted all the recommendations of the Ewurama Addy Committee but varied one to the effect that: “Gratuity shall be calculated as four months' consolidated salary for each year (or fraction) served.”
"It is the case that whilst the President of Ghana pursuant to Article 71 (1) (b) has the power, in accordance with the advice of the council of state to:
(a) Reject all or part of the recommendations of the Committee and ask the committee to reconsider its recommendation or constitute another committee under Article 71 (1) to propose new recommendations; or
(b) Accept all or part of the recommendations,” he did not only lack the substantive authority in determining, inter alia, the gratuities of superior court judges, but also failed to consult the Council of State as required by law.
Mr Kor, therefore, is praying the Court to determine that: "Any procedure used to calculate the gratuity of superior court judges that uses four months for each year of completed service as contained in the letter signed by the Chief of Staff dated 4th January 2013 which procedure is not contained in the recommendations of the Prof Marian Ewurama Addy report is inconsistent with the law and should be considered as null and void."