Private legal practitioner and professor of economics, Stephen Kwaku Asare, also known as Kwaku Azar, has urged Ghanaians to completely disregard the claims made by Chief Justice nominee, Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, that apex court judges do not receive ex gratia after retirement.
Appearing before Parliament’s Appointment Committee on Friday, May 26, 2023, the Chief Justice nominee sought to dismiss the notion that judges and magistrates benefit from ex gratia.
“I think that consistently, the Association of Judges and Magistrates has responded to questions on ex gratia for judges and made it very clear that judges don’t receive ex gratia.
“We continue in office; we don’t leave office until you retire. We don’t have a cycle, and therefore, the discussion of ex gratia is not applicable to us.
“This specific provision, where our names [judges] are mentioned, and how our salaries are set under Article 71, is determined by a committee, a presidential committee that handles that work. The framers of the Constitution believed that was the appropriate way to ensure our independence, and we are not the only individuals subject to it. It’s an entrenched provision and can only be changed through an elaborate process,” she stated in response to a question.
However, in a Facebook post dated Saturday, May 27, 2023, Prof. Azar stated that the claim cannot be true.
According to the US-based professor, Supreme Court Justices, for instance, do receive ex gratia, which does not even include other benefits such as cars, protocols, and health benefits.
“So, completely disregard the claim by the CJ nominee that judges do not receive ex gratia. They do.
“Judges’ ex gratia is much better than that of politicians, whose tenure is entirely at the mercy of the electorate. In contrast, judges have job security and lifetime pensions,” he stated.
The Good Governance (GoGo) advocate said the system of ex gratia for judges should be abolished and replaced with a certificate of appreciation, which will be awarded to judges upon their retirement.
“Note that GoGo will scrap all monetary payments for ex gratia and replace it with a certificate of appreciation.
“Also, note that such a certificate is entirely consistent with Article 71. In fact, because ex gratia is a ‘tip,’ it’s supposed to be minimal, not the extravagant scheme that the Professor Dis and Dat Committees have turned it into,” Prof. Azar said.
The issue of ex gratia has become topical in Ghana’s political and governance discoure in recent time.
Flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress, former President John Dramani Mahama has already promised to scrap ex gratia if he is elected back into office.
However, pro-government persons have dismissed his promise describing it as populist and not feasible.
Read Prof Azar’s full post below:
SC judges retire on the current salary of SC judges.
In addition, they receive ex gratia (gratuity) equal to 3 months salary for each year on the SC, 2 months salary for each year on the Court of Appeal, and one month salary for each year on the high court.
So let’s assume a SC judge currently earns ₵40k a month.
He’d receive this amount, adjusted for any future increases in the salary of serving members, for life. That is his pension.
But on retirement, he’d also receive a one time payment as gratuity. Consider Justice Anin Yeboah who served on the HC for 1 year, CoA for 5 years, and SC for 15 years.
His ex gratia is 45 (3*15) months salary for his service on the SC; 10 (2*5) months salary for his service on the CoA; and 1 (1*1) month salary for his service on the HC. He gets ex gratia credit for 56 months (45 + 10 + 1).
So in total 40,000 * 56 = ₵2,240,000 in ex gratia.
This does not prejudice their other benefits in the form of cars, protocols, health, etc.
So ignore completely the claim by the CJ nominee that judges do not receive ex gratia. They do.
Judges’ ex gratia is much better than the politicians whose tenure is entirely at the mercy of the electorate. In contrast, judges’ have job security and life time pensions.
Note that GOGO will scrap all monetary payments for ex gratia and replace it with a certificate of appreciation.
Note also that such a certificate is entirely consistent with article 71. In fact, because ex gratia is a “tip,” it’s supposed to be de minimis not the boondoggle that the Professor Dis and Dat Committees have turned it into.
#SALL is the cardinal sin of the 8th Parliament.