Editorial comment in Tuesday’s newspapers ranged from The Nation commending Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda for acting on concerns about delays by the Judiciary in concluding cases, to the flagship Daily Times encouraging the crackdown on endemic corruption and unprofessionalism in the legal system as raised by Justice Esmie Chombo.
In her letter dated January 18 2018, Chombo – Judge President for Lilongwe High Court Registry – said she had been informed that some lawyers were paying court staff to misplace or destroy court files so as to frustrate case proceeding.
Generally, newspapers welcomed the Judiciary for resolving to ensure that there would be no unacceptable delays in the delivery of judgments and dealing with corruption.
The head of the Judiciary has warned that those who fail to deliver Judgements by September will be dealt by the Judicial Services Commission for disciplinary actions,
The Nation commended Chief Justice by issuing a stern warning to slow and errant judges that they will be disciplined should they not take heed of the concerns from court users raised during a meeting in Mangohci last week.
“We are aware that there are factors that also affect judges and other judicial officers’ performance in executing their duties such as shortage of personnel.
“We trust that the government and Judiciary leadership will also look critically at such matters to ensure the country has a vibrant and performing judicial system,” the paper said.
The issue made front-page news in The Nation and top of page 3 in the Daily Times.
The flagship Daily Times wrote a comment headlined “Walk the talk, Chief Justice”.
It described Nyirenda’s warning as “heart-warming”, saying the directive for judges to clear their backlog of cases by September this year is a welcome development.
It also commented on the vow by Chief Justice to crackdown on corruption among judicial officers, which is reported to be rampant.
“All along, the judiciary has been living in denial. It treated the complaints as mere speculations as some concerned parties could not come in the open for fear of reprisals. Now that the Chief Justice has spoke, we see light at the end of the tunnel. We pray that the CJ will walk the talk on the issue,” the paper said .
University of Malawi law lecturer Mwiza Nkhata said delaying judgements were a ‘very’ sad state of affairs since there are some cases that even go further than eight years.
“There is often a combination of factors that leads to delays in judgments. Sometimes, it can be purely bureaucratic in the sense that judges are being allocated too many cases. The law in Malawi tries to mitigate this by giving judges vacations to write judgements. Sometimes delays are caused by individual judges, through plain laziness and a simple failure to be professional,” said Nkhata.
Malawi Law Society (MLS) has been engaging the Judiciary to sort out the problem.
The need for a time limit for delivering the judgement is not just to avoid delay, but also to prevent a miscarriage of justice.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :