Legal Expert Kwaku Azar Refutes Torkonoo’s Denial of Ex Gratia for Judges

Legal Expert Stephen Kwaku Asare Challenges Chief Justice Nominee’s Claims on Judges’ Ex Gratia

Stephen Kwaku Asare, a renowned legal practitioner and economics professor, has called on Ghanaians to disregard the assertions made by Chief Justice nominee Justice Gertrude Torkornoo regarding ex gratia payments for apex court judges.

During her appearance before Parliament’s Appointment Committee on May 26, 2023, the Chief Justice nominee refuted the belief that judges and magistrates receive ex gratia benefits. She emphasized that judges remain in office until retirement and do not operate on a cycle, making discussions of ex gratia irrelevant. She further explained that the determination of judges’ salaries falls under the purview of a presidential committee, as mandated by the Constitution.

However, in a Facebook post on May 27, 2023, Professor Azar contested the validity of the claim. He pointed out that Supreme Court Justices do receive ex gratia payments, in addition to other benefits such as vehicles, protocols, and healthcare.

Professor Azar called for the abolition of the current system of ex gratia for judges and proposed replacing it with a certificate of appreciation upon their retirement. He emphasized that such a certificate would be consistent with Article 71 of the Constitution. Furthermore, he argued that the current ex gratia scheme, which he considers extravagant, should be minimal since it is meant to be a tip.

The topic of ex gratia has gained significant attention in Ghana’s political and governance discussions. Former President John Dramani Mahama, the National Democratic Congress’ flagbearer, has pledged to eliminate ex gratia if elected back into office. However, critics aligned with the government have dismissed this promise as populist and unfeasible.

Read Prof Azar’s full post below: 

SC judges retire on the current salary of SC judges. 

In addition, they receive ex gratia (gratuity) equal to 3 months salary for each year on the SC, 2 months salary for each year on the Court of Appeal, and one month salary for each year on the high court. 

So let’s assume a SC judge currently earns ₵40k a month. 

He’d receive this amount, adjusted for any future increases in the salary of serving members, for life. That is his pension. 

But on retirement, he’d also receive a one time payment as gratuity. Consider Justice Anin Yeboah who served on the HC for 1 year, CoA for 5 years, and SC for 15 years. 

His ex gratia is 45 (3*15) months salary for his service on the SC; 10 (2*5) months salary for his service on the CoA; and 1 (1*1) month salary for his service on the HC. He gets ex gratia credit for 56 months (45 + 10 + 1). 

So in total 40,000 * 56 = ₵2,240,000 in ex gratia. 

This does not prejudice their other benefits in the form of cars, protocols, health, etc. 

So ignore completely the claim by the CJ nominee that judges do not receive ex gratia. They do. 

Judges’ ex gratia is much better than the politicians whose tenure is entirely at the mercy of the electorate. In contrast, judges’ have job security and life time pensions.

Note that GOGO will scrap all monetary payments for ex gratia and replace it with a certificate of appreciation.

Note also that such a certificate is entirely consistent with article 71. In fact, because ex gratia is a “tip,” it’s supposed to be de minimis not the boondoggle that the Professor Dis and Dat Committees have turned it into.

#SALL is the cardinal sin of the 8th Parliament.

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