Chief Justice not going on leave – Judiciary

The Judiciary says Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda will continue discharging his funtions in accordance with the Constitution.

Registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal Agnes Patemba said this in a statement on Sunday.

She was reacting to a public notice by Chief Secretary to the Government Lloyd Muhara who said Nyirenda has gone on leave pending retirement.

Muhara also sent a similar letter to Justice Edward Twea telling him to go on leave pending retirement.

Patemba said though the President is involved in the appointment of Judges, all other matters relating to welfare and discipline falls within the exclusive province of the Judiciary.

“After the appointment, the Executive is not involved in the internal affairs of the the Judiciary,” said Patemba.

On tenure of Judges, Patemba said the Constitution in Section 119 (6) states that Judges shall vacate office after attaining the age of 65.

She added that a Judge may be removed for incompetence or misbehaviour by a petition debated and passed in Parliament.

Patemba also noted that the accumulated leave days for Justice Twea and Chief Justice Nyirenda are less than the number of days mentioned in letters authored by Muhara.

“Over the years, the Chief Justice and the Justices of Appeal have accumulated less days because they have been prevented from proceeding on leave due to the exigiences of their office,” she said.

She then revealed that Chief Justice Nyirenda is expected to retire in December 2021 while Justice Twea will retire in June 2021.

Other Judges expected to retire by the end of 2021 are Justice Anthony Kamanga (September, 2020), Justice Jane Ansah (October, 2020), Justice Dunstain Mwaungulu (June, 2021), and Justice Chipeta (July, 2021).

Patemba said Justice Ansah already went on leave pending retirement while Justice Mwaungulu is stuck in the United Kingdom due to lockdown hence the remaining seven Justices of Appeal cannot go on leave since such a scenario will stall Supreme Court of Appeal business.

According to Patemba, a minimum of six Justices plus the Chief Justice are required to form a quorum in substantive matters before the Supreme Court.

She also noted that the Judiciary wrote the Ministry of Finance in February requesting funds for the appointment of four Supreme Court Justices of Appeal but the Ministry of Finance said there were no funds for the exercise.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Defenders Coalition, the Malawi Law Society and the Magistrates Association have obtained an injunction against attempts by the Executive to fire the Chief Justice.

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