Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, has instructed all district and circuit courts throughout the country to resolve issues related to personal freedom on public holidays, weekends, and even during civil unrest if their security can be guaranteed.
Judge Anin-Yeboah issued the order on Wednesday, May 20, 2020.
The decision was the first major decision by the Supreme Court since taking office earlier this year and officially confirmed the extraordinary decision of the Supreme Court on 18 December 2019.
The decision of the seven-member panel, including Judge Anin-Yeboah himself, was the valedictory judgement of former Chief Justice Sofia Akuffo.
The verdict ended a centuries-old practice in which suspects were arrested and detained after 48 hours because the court does not sit on weekends and holidays.
In September 2016, a private lawyer, Martin Kpebu, brought the attorney general to the Supreme Court to ask for clarification that parts of the holiday law that prohibited the court from hearing cases of personal freedom were unconstitutional.
In its 2019 ruling, the Supreme Court ordered the Chief Justice to appoint in each of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies within six months with the number of required courts that might be needed for weekends and holiday hearings to handle cases related to personal liberties.
Anin-Yeboah’s Judicial Order, which is in line with the decision, states that;
1. All states and district courts throughout the country are designed to sit on public holidays, weekends, and during civil unrest (where the safety of judges/judges, court personnel, and court users can be guaranteed) to determine matters related to personal freedom.
2. Consequently, all Circuit Court Judges and Magistrates are required to sit on certain days when informed by their respective Registrars that a case bordering on personal freedom has been filed to be determined on any of the specific days.
3. The Registrars concern must also notify Court staff that they must be present on the appointed day for the examination of such personal freedom cases.
4. Supreme Court supervisory judges in all regional capitals determine the justice of the Supreme Court to decide such personal freedom cases and when the Court Clerk draws attention to the filing of the case.