HSF takes JSC to court over appointment of judges

Francis Antonie says there is a growing perception talented candidates being overlooked for judicial office

HSF Takes Judicial Service Commission to Court

The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) has launched legal action against the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) in order to clarify the procedure and decision-making process relating to the nomination of persons for judicial office. The HSF, in challenging the lawfulness of a particular process of the JSC, hopes to clarify and establish the correct interpretation and implementation of section 174 of the Constitution.

In a constitutional democracy an independent judiciary must be staffed by judges of the highest intellectual ability and moral character, who not only understand but also live the spirit of the Constitution. The HSF supports the constitutional imperatives of judicial transformation. However, there is a growing perception that talented candidates for judicial appointment and advancement are being overlooked for reasons that are not clear, or explicit.

In light of recent comments made by the Chief Justice in his capacity as JSC Chairman and by its spokesman Dumisa Ntsebeza SC, as well as the resignation of Izak Smuts SC from the JSC, we believe that determination by the court is both desirable and necessary.

The purpose of our action, thus, is to ensure that the JSC's decision-making process is consistent with the provisions of the Constitution. Although the HSF is challenging the lawfulness of a particular set of facts, it is hoped that clarity will be obtained in respect of the JSC's methodology in nominating and selecting candidates for judicial office.

A copy of the founding affidavit can be downloaded here.

Statement issued by Francis Antonie, Director of the Helen Suzman Foundation, June 7 2013

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