’Judicial Anarchy’ As Judge Chali Refuses to Recuse Himself

Judge Isaac Tantameni Chali has decided not to recuse himself in the matter of activist Brebner Changala’s application to compel the government form an independent medical review board to evaluate President Michael Sata’s capacity for office.

The ruling attached in full below comes after Changala had appealed to the Judicial Complaints Authority (JCA) following Judge Chali’s pointed attacks on both Changala and the Daily Nation newspaper, which was not a party to the court matter.

Earlier, Judge Chali had dismissed Changala’s effort to institute an order of mandamus to compel Cabinet to form a medical review board as a “misguided or trivial complaint of administrative error” while then accusing the newspaper of “reckless scandal-mongering.”

Although the first application was dismissed by Judge Chali, Changala reapplied and also sought judicial review to have the matter brought before another judge.

With regard to the request for recusal, Judge Chali has ruled that he is not convinced that he would have any bias in the matter, and went forward to set the date of September 4, 2014 for the hearing on the main matter.

“This ruling is a recipe for judicial anarchy,” Mr. Changala wrote in an emailed statement.

Judge Chali’s ruling is indeed sharply worded and unusually personal in its form of addressing the applicant.

“First and foremost, I find Mr. Zulu’s submission to contradict the spirit of his client’s instructions and application. While the Applicant is blowing hot, Counsel is blowing cold. If indeed Mr. Zulu did not find anything on which to impugn my integrity he should have so aised his client, and the application for recusal was going to be unnecessary. By his tone, Mr. Zulu did not find anything wrong in me continuing to preside over the matter. For that reason alone I could have dismissed the application,” Judge Chali ruling states.

Judge Chali continues: “I must state that I have no apology to make for the words or expressions I used in my ruling to describe anyone, including the Applicant. In fact, if the Appicant had come to Court expecting to be flattered, in words or indeed in the result of his case, then he must think again.”

According to reports, President Sata has not reported to his office to attend to presidential duties in almost two months, since before he left to Israel for emergency medical treatment. The majority of urgent matters are being sporadically handled by Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda from his home office, while many other matters of state business are simply left unattended to, prompting confusion over a perceived leadership vacuum, sources say.

Despite this present reality, Judge Chali has previously dismissed the call for a medical review as “trivial,” and may in fact issue a similar ruling in the upcoming hearing.

Ruling on Changala vs Attorney General

Source : Zambia Reports

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