THE Chief Justice, Prof Ibrahim Juma has directed Resident Magistrates to be independent, tolerant and refrain from any favoritism in order to fully implement the responsibility of providing justice to the people.
Prof Juma made the appeal yesterday after swearing in 38 Resident Magistrates at a short ceremony held at the High Court in Dar es Salaam.
The Chief Justice reminded the magistrates of the role they have in the community as they handle 70 per cent of all cases registered at various levels of courts. He encouraged them to hold the qualifications that led them to get the opportunity to serve in the position of Resident Magistrate.
Prof Juma mentioned one of those qualifications that are important includes the independence of the magistrate.
“The Chief Justice cannot even call you one day and tell you that in the case before you, you have to decide this way. Therefore, you are free. You have to decide what is before you freely without the power of corruption or influence. Your leader will only intervene if there is a delay or if you fail to observe the procedure,” he said.
The Chief Justice reminded the magistrates that the freedom entrusted to them is the essence of the judiciary’s office and considering that the Constitution of the Tanzanian Court is the Third Pillar of the State must carry out its duties with freedom, which means the work that they do every day.
He told them that the words in their oath that they will carry out their duties in accordance with the Constitution and the Law, without fear, favoritism or prejudice, remind them of the great freedom that the law and the Constitution have bestowed on them.
The Chief Justice explained to the magistrates that bias is one of the biggest legal sins that occur and implored them to shun all forms of bias and do justice in all cases before them.
“When people come to court, they expect that their cases will be decided fairly. There are other social things you should avoid that can give the impression that you will be biased. You will have to live a life that will make you a little lonely, but that loneliness has the goal of not giving an interpretation that you might be biased,” he said.
Likewise, Prof Juma urged the magistrates to be patient, especially when they listen to evidence that is covered by arguments from the parties involved, because the people who come to court do not understand the law.
“It is important to tolerate them, educate them gradually and make sure they understand what is going on. Patience is very important. A magistrate or a judge should not get angry, even if there is any kind of wrongdoing, if you do that, the interpretation will show that your decision will be biased towards the other side,” the Chief Justice warned
He also urged them to listen to the evidence carefully and to think deeply about the law before reaching decisions because the law gives them great power, including sending people to prisons.
“The law gives them that power, you have to think hard, listen to the evidence carefully, read the law carefully so that you can reach correct decision,” he said.
The Chief Justice said that there are other matters that they decide affect people’s lives and properties and they give serious decisions on matters of divorce, marriage, child care, division of property and marriage dissolution.
“These are very serious decisions, they can change the life of a fellow human being, they are areas that you must be very careful, you must satisfy yourself that your decision is correct and you will manage it,” he said.
Initially, inviting the Chief Justice to speak with the magistrates, Judge of the High Court of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam Main Registry, Latifa Mansour, congratulated them for getting that opportunity and invited them to the Judiciary of Tanzania having the duties of providing justice in accordance with the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania.
She explained to them that they will receive training in understanding that the magistrates must be fair, honest and live in the oath he took that he will work in accordance with the law, traditional customs and in accordance with the law without fear, greed, hatred and favoritism.
The swearing-in ceremony was attended by the Judges in Charge of the various Divisions of the High Court and other senior leaders, including the Chief Court Administrator, Prof Elisante Ole Gabriel, Chief Registrar Wilbert Chuma, the twin High Court Administrators, Mr Leonard Magacha and Ms Mary Shirima and the Registrar of the High Court Sharmillah Sarwat.