One of the things that distinguish human beings from animals is the sense of law and order.
Apart from our ability to create an ordered and law abiding society, mankind would have been living like wild animals hacking each other down and tearing flesh off their owners to feed hungry stomachs.
Indeed we are humans because we know when it is right to do what. This has made us able to package a set of rules we call law by which all our actions are weighed.
But the law would have to be administered by humans who have acquired the skill to interpret the actions and inactions of mankind.
These individuals are indeed special because they have taken God’s position as judges of the earth. It means that through their operations judges must assume a nature that makes them different from all persons within society in order to be fair to all.
For this reason, the state pays judges well such that they would not be tempted to sell justice. The remuneration of judges anywhere on the globe is better than most citizens of their respective countries.
They are well housed and given privileges ordinary citizens may never get. In fact one cannot easily become a judge because one must have practiced law for not less than 10 years in some countries. Even then one must be called to the bench, and that means a lot.
In the end the one who qualifies as a judge is seen to be refined with great understanding of who and what the law is.
With this knowledge one does not expect them to take bribes. Bribes are gifts taken by public officers to influence their actions. And so when a judge takes bribe it influences his interpretation of the law. This then returns us to the jungle where the law no longer functions.
Here the predator is the one with enough money to influence justice. When he or she gets this illegal judgement it is equal to tearing off flesh from the skin of an innocent prey.
In this regard we should see bribery as an uncivilised act capable of making us lose our sense of humanity to become wild beasts. No wonder wild beings like armed robbers who take human life, rape, steal, etc. are sometimes let loose by the courts because jungle justice has replaced the law.
Even an ordinary gift that is not intended to influence justice cannot be taken by a judge. This is because, like the Bible says, “a man’s gift maketh room for him,” (Proverbs 18:16a, KJV). So ordinarily judges are not to take hampers, artworks, goats, etc. as gifts, because in doing so they are cultivating the desire to receive and may end up hooked up.
So a typical judge would reject even a genuine gift from a friend who just wants to be nice. It is increasingly so in the advanced countries where gifts worth a certain amount of money are to be given through recognised gift agencies, which pay tax to the state..
It is unfortunate that in our part of the world even a gift of a car could go without proper procedure that not only rob the state of revenue but hides the recipients of the gift, be they medical doctors, lecturers, judges, etc.
And so for judges to help us safeguard the rule of law, they should have control over their intellect such that they would not behave like the shark in the ocean, who thinks the fish at the end of the hook is ready meal.
They should know that they are the protectors of the rule of law and therefore breaking the law means sending us back to the Stone Age.
A judge may escape bribes and gifts, but not political or partisan influence. And so we are not yet out of the jungle if a judge’s political interest in an issue inspires him or her to toll a certain course.
We have seen judgments that clearly told of how much the judge was in favour of one party or the other. Indeed there are instances when judges allow themselves to be influenced by ruling governments to misinterpret law.
In this case it is still the predator which has changed from using money to influence. This time it is using coercive powers of state to get justice in a certain direction.
All of a sudden we see judges empanelled from lower to higher courts to increase the presence of pro-government justices so they may vote in favour of government.
We are not there yet and should not pride ourselves as being proponents of the rule of law. For us to pursue law and order, we must allow the law to run its full course, free from politics, money and judges own preferences to a state where the respect for the law supersedes any other consideration.
In this regard we would be getting closer to civilization, which demands that we live as equal citizens in a free and fair society with opportunity for everybody irrespective of gender, creed, status or tribe.
A GNA feature by Alexander Nyarko Yeboah