Con-Court Bill faces raft of changes

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PARLIAMENT has recommended a raft of changes to the Constitutional Court Bill which will govern the operations of the Constitutional Court (Con-Court).
The Bill seeks to regulate the jurisdiction, powers, practice and procedure of the court as well as providing for the composition, regulation and appeals from decisions of lower courts and other matters connected to the operations of the Con-Court.
The Bill which was read for the second time in the National Assembly on Thursday is now awaiting scrutiny by the Parliamentary Legal Committee before it is tabled for adoption by the House and onward transmission to the Senate.

The Misheck Mataranyika-chaired Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs portfolio committee recommend that an additional sub clause which states that “in the absence of the Chief Justice, or if the office of the Chief Justice is vacant, the Deputy Chief Justice must exercise the powers or perform the functions of the Chief Justice as Acting Chief Justice” be inserted before the Bill becomes law.
Regarding decisions of the Court, where at any stage during the hearing of any matter, a judge retires or dies or is absent, or where there is a difference of opinion on an appeal or application being heard by an even number of the remaining judges of the court, the committee recommended that the decision of the court should be suspended until opinion of a further judge of the court has been obtained, and there upon the decision of the majority of such judges shall be the decision of the court.
“ThecCommittee recommends an additional clause that allows a person with expertise in a particular matter which is before the Court to appear as a friend of the court (Friend of Court). On Clause 8 on the Scope and Execution of Process, the committee recommends insertion of a sub clause which gives power to Sheriff subject to applicable rules, to execute all sentences, judgments, writs, summons, rules, orders, warrants, commands and processes and must make return of the manner of execution thereof to the court and to the party whose instance they were issued,” the committee’s report reads.
The committee also recommended that relating to sittings and vacations, the Court should have such recess periods as may be determined by the Chief Justice in order to enable judges to do research and to attend to outstanding or prospective judicial functions that may be assigned to them.
“On Clause 13 relating to Right of Audience, the committee recommends that proceedings before the court be instituted by any person acting in his own interest, any person acting on behalf of another person who cannot act for himself, any person acting as a member, or on the interest of a group or class of persons, any person acting in the public interest and any association acting in the interests of its members.
“On Clause 27 relating to Practice Directions, the committee recommends that the Chief Justice should consult with the Rules Committee when issuing practice directives for facilitation of proper dispatch and conduct of the business of the court,” the committee suggested.

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