Input on the status of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC)
On 10th October 2022, the MLS received an invitation from the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament to attend a scheduled meeting on 18th October 2022 at 9:30am to “present issues that border on the functionality of the Judicial Service Commission in the country”. This also presented an opportunity through which the MLS could continue its resolve, efforts and legal duty to contribute to the improvement of the country’s justice system. The MLS’s position before the Legal Affairs Committee was that in the current state of affairs, the JSC is ill suited to serve its constitutional purpose and no institution shoulders the primary responsibility more than Parliament for this state of affairs. The MLS asked Parliament to observe that while section 116, 118(b) and (d) of the Constitution expected Act of Parliament to prescribe disciplinary powers of the JSC or to prescribe regulation of judicial officers or even to prescribe jurisdiction and other powers, or prescribe what representation the JSC can make to the President, there is no Act of Parliament answering the constitutional call. On the contrary, section 5 of the Judicature Administration Act rejects that responsibility by referring back to the Constitution.
The MLS recommended that Parliament in collaboration with the Law Commission and/or the Ministry of Justice must therefore treat its constitutional responsibility with a significant degree of urgency in order to better the functionality of the Judicial Service Commission to effectively serve the people of Malawi.