The independence of the judiciary is sacrosanct, says the LPC
The Legal Practice Council (LPC), whose objectives include the promotion and protection of the public interest; to uphold and advance the rule of law, the administration of justice and the Constitution, has noted the recent opinion piece in the media presented by Minister Sisulu in which she ask what the Constitution has done for “victims of ‘the rule of law’” – presented as a palliative, and refers to black judges as “mentally colonised Africans” “in the high echelons of our judicial system”. It is important to emphasise that these are not the only issues raised by Minister Sisulu but are the issues which the LPC has decided to comment on.
The LPC appreciates that the Constitution, judges and judgments are not immune to criticism. It also welcomes and encourages constructive criticism and debate in the appropriate forum. However, there have in recent years been a number of attacks on the judiciary which, in the LPC’s view, have been made without providing any factual justification, as is the case with the recently published opinion. This is unfair, unwarranted and unhelpful. Unwarranted attacks without any factual justification make it impossible for the public, in particular, legal practitioners, to debate them sensibly and constructively. All that is left is criticism without merit or substance, which is unfortunate.
The LPC urges all those who intend to debate aspects of the Constitution, the qualities of a judge or the merits of a judgment, and particularly those in a position of authority whose statements will inevitably receive significant publicity and influence a large section of the population, to do so only after providing the relevant factual basis for any criticism, so that members of the public are fully able to understand the basis for the assessment.
The independence of the judiciary is sacrosanct. This is why the LPC urges politicians not to use the judiciary as a political football without providing the requisite factual validation, for their analysis. Otherwise, the collateral damage is the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.
Chairperson of the LPC
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