LAZ in court to have Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda removed
THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has gone to court to press for the removal of acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda claiming her continued stay in office is illegal.
LAZ president James Banda, who led a horde of lawyers clad in black gowns in what they termed as a “dignified protest,” filed in the Principal Registry, writ of summons against Attorney General Mumba Malila and Ms Justice Chibesakunda as first and second defendants respectively around 11.00 hours yesterday.
Mr Banda told journalists and lawyers shortly after the filing that “it is done…that is why the final claim is that she must vacate the office of Chief Justice and we hope the court will agree with us.” When contacted on whether he had been served with the summons, Mr Malila said he had not yet been served but was fully aware of the matter and would respond to it after he had been served.
LAZ wants the court to order that the re-appointment of Ms Justice Chibesakunda as Supreme Court Judge in May 2012 was illegal, null and void.
It wants a declaration that the President of Zambia may exercise the powers contained in Article 98 (1) (b) of the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia, and the Constitution of Zambia Act Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia, only once with respect to any one Judge of the High Court or Supreme Court.
LAZ which is represented by eight law firms want another declaration that the Constitution may not be used to re-appoint a Judge of the High Court or Supreme Court to a position other than the position that the said judge was ratified for upon first appointment.
Additionally, LAZ wants an order that the President may not appoint a person who has attained and exceeded the age of 65 years to the office of a Judge of the High Court, Supreme Court, Deputy Chief Justice or Chief Justice.
It further wants an order that Ms Chibesakunda having attained and exceeded the age of 65, does not qualify to hold the substantive office of Chief Justice of Zambia.
The association stated in its statement of claim that it had actively participated in matters where there was a threat or perceived threat against the rule of law while on the other hand, Ms Justice Chibesakunda was appointed to the Bench as a Supreme Court judge in 1997.
It said Ms Justice Chibesakunda reached her retirement age of 65 in April 2009 after which she was re-appointed by the President as Supreme Court Judge on contract for a further term of three years and that in May 2012, the President re-appointed her as Supreme Court Judge for a further term of two years.
It said while she was serving as Supreme Court Judge, she was appointed to act as Chief Justice on June 14, 2012 which appointment, according to LAZ was unlawful as the President did not have the power to re-appoint her after her contract expired in April 2012.
LAZ further contended that on or about January 20, 2013, the President appointed Ms Justice Chibesakunda as substitutive Chief Justice subject to ratification by the National Assembly when the Constitution only allowed a person to be appointed as Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice, Supreme Court Judge and High Court Judge to be below the age of 65.
LAZ said because of the issues cited above, there had been serious breach of the Constitutional provisions relating to the appointment to the office of Supreme Court Judge and Chief Justice which were an affront to the rule of law.