New Judicial Service Commission urged to publicly advertise vacancies for judges


The newly-constituted Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has been urged to advertise vacancies for Judges in Guyana and across the wider Caribbean and then publicise potential candidates so that members of the legal profession and the public can vet them before any appointment.

This appeal was made by lawyer Arud Gossai and economist, Ramon Gaskin, in a letter sent to the five-member JSC and Attorney General, Anil Nandlall through the law firm Satram and Satram.

Further, it was noted that any failure to adhere to these appeals, which they contend are in keeping with Guyana’s laws, could result in legal action against the Commission.

“We are aware of the practice, rooted in the traditions of England, whereby the Head of the Judiciary would invite suitably qualified persons to join the Judiciary.

“This practice is not consistent with our Constitution, particularly Article 129 thereof,” the letter pointed out.

Further, it noted that persons holding the Legal Education Certificate from the Council of Legal Education are by Section 4(1) of the Legal Practitioners Act entitled to be admitted as Attorneys-at-Law in Guyana.

As such, Gossai and Gaskin contended: “It would amount to a gross violation of the Constitution for the Commission by its conduct to limit the number of applicants for any vacancy of Judge.

Members of the JSC

“The provisions of the Constitution and good administration and transparency dictates that all persons eligible for appointment should have an opportunity to be considered for the position.”

Because of this, the JSC was urged to publicly advertise vacancies for judges.

They also posited that doing so would allow for the “suitably qualified candidates” to be chosen to make decisions that could potentially impact thousands of litigants and potential litigants.

The letter also urges the Commission to name candidates so that they can be vetted by the public. Doing so, the letter also stated, should facilitate greater transparency in the system too.

The recent reconstitution of this Commission came as several public figures, including judicial officers, have lamented the dire need for more Judges to dispose of criminal proceedings in a timely manner since the number of cases on trial has increased significantly over the years.

This impacts the efficient delivery of justice.

The letter acknowledged these concerns and reminded the Commission of the responsibility of Judges under Guyana’s laws. That include providing decisions within a stipulated period.

“The Commission has to be therefore satisfied that the persons they intend to appoint or recommend for appointment are capable of giving written decisions within the time-limits stipulated by Parliament.

“It would be a violation of the Constitution for the Commission to appoint or promote sitting Magistrates and Judges who have a history of not delivering timely judgments. In the circumstances, the Commission has a Constitutional duty to request and consider, from potential applicants and other sources, evidence of their compliance or ability to comply with the Time Limits for Judicial Decisions Act,” it further stated.

Given the positions put forward, it was noted that any decision made that does not comply with the Constitution will be challenged.

“We expect to hear from the Commission on the modalities it will apply with respect to advertisement, the objective criteria to be applied and the other steps it will take to assure transparency prior to making any appointments,” the letter noted too.

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