Justice Jones Dotse, a Supreme Court Judge, has urged judges and magistrates to handle cases of electoral malpractices brought before them with dispatch.
He said they should send clear and powerful signal to those out there to cheat and create confusion that they could not have their way and that the state had invested so much to promote transparency and fairness of the country’s electoral system and this needs to be protected.
He said it should not be lost on them that delays in dealing with electoral disputes could undermine confidence in the electoral regime and embolden offenders to persist in the wrong doing.
Justice Dotse was speaking at a day’s training on adjudicating electoral disputes in respect of the biometric voter registration, for judges and magistrates in Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions, at the Anita Hotel at Akyawkrom in the Ejisu-Juaben Municipality.
The programme was organized by the Judicial Training Institute (JTI) and with funding from the Department for International Development (DFID) brought together 56 participants.
Justice Dotse, who is also the Chairman the JTI Board, said the training the forth in a series is meant to help the judges and magistrates to better appreciate their roles under the Constitutional Amendment (CI 72) that specifically relates to the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) and came into force on February 21, this year.
He said it was unfortunate that the CI came out late and did not receive enough publicity saying that in part accounted for the reported violence that characterized the just ended voter registration.
Justice Marful Sau, a Justice of the Court of Appeal and Director of JTI, said the biometric voter registration, the first of its kind in Ghana, is primarily targeted at securing clean and reliable electoral roll, one of the pillars for ensuring a transparent, free and fair elections.
He said the CI 72 has created four specific offences and prescribed the punishment for these and appealed that they make a careful study of the charge sheet brought before their courts and the CI before assuming jurisdiction.
He drew attention to the similarities between the CI and registration offences under PNDC Law 284, which are still in force and said infractions under CI 72 should attract sanctions prescribed by that enactment while those charged under the PNDC Law must receive punishment provided under that law.
Justice V.C.RA.C Crabbe, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, noted that disputes are likely to occur during the upcoming general elections and there was the need for judges and magistrates to know the law in order to make effective decisions.