Tribunal hearing adjourned

The three suspended judges have applied for a full bench in order to ensure that a comprehensive decision is made as the appeal involves novel points of such difficulty and such importance to the general law in Zambia.

The letter of application is contained on of appeal before the courts.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has adjourned the case in which the State appealed against the stay of the Tribunal which was constituted by President Michael Sata to probe allegations of misconduct by the three judges to unknown date.

Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda adjourned the appeal hearing yesterday before a full packed court because one of the judges was unwell.

Supreme Court judge Philip Musonda, High Court Judge in Charge Charles Kajimanga and Judge Nigel Mutuna were suspended by Mr Sata and later a Tribunal was constituted.

Initially the case was supposed to be heard on July 14th but it was adjourned to August 28 2012 because the defendant needed sufficient time to go through the ‘heads of argument’ that were filed by the Attorney General Mumba Malila.

The suspended judges objected the courts decision that the case be heard by three judges and demanded to be heard by a full bench.

Judge Chibesakunda said Judge Hildah Chibomba was unwell and this made it impossible for bench to sit.

Other judges expected to preside over the hearing were deputy chief Justice Florence Mumba, Gregory Phiri, Marvin Mwanamwambwa, Elizabeth Muyovwe and Muyunda Wankie.

The acting chief justice could however not give an exact date for the hearing but advised that a new date would be communicated to later.

In their application the judges raised three preliminary objections which they felt must be dealt with before the matter could proceed.

In the first ground they felt that the appeal by the Attorney General was incompetent as it was being canvassed for the first time in the Supreme Court of Zambia which was an appellate forum and consequently the court was wanting in jurisdiction as the matter was not contested in the High Court for judicature for Zambia.

The Judges also observed that the grounds of appeal by Mr Malila had not been argued in the High Court where the matter was lodged, (the Supreme Court of Zambia is wanting in jurisdiction and can only entertain these arguments after the High Court of judicature for Zambia has conclusively adjudicated upon them).

Finally the Judges argued that the record of appeal has not been prepared in the manner prescribed by the Supreme Court rules statutory instrument No. 70 of 1975 therefore “the purported certification of the record of appeal is incompetent.”

The Tribunal was stayed by high Court judge Fulgence Chisanga after an observation that the decision by President Sata to suspend the three judges lacked merit and that it was an abuse of power by the president.