Extension of CJ tenure legal, High Court rules

DAR ES SALAAM: THE decision by President Samia Suluhu Hassan to extend the tenure of Professor Ibrahim Juma as Chief Justice of Tanzania does not breach the country’s Constitution, as amended from time to time.

This follows the decision of the High Court, Main Registry, reached on Friday, dismissing the constitutional petition lodged by Humphrey Malenga, the petitioner, who is Tanzanian citizen.

“The President has powers under Article 120 (3) read together with Article 118 (2) of the Constitution to extend the tenure of the Justice of Appeal to enable him to continue to discharge his duties, as such, I find the petition without merit. It stands dismissed,” Judge Godfrey Isaya declared.

In his petition, the petitioner sought for orders to interpret the provision of Article 118 (2) of the Constitution in respect to the age of retirement of the Chief Justice to be 65 years old and not the age of retirement of the Justice of Appeal.

He also wanted the interpretation of the provision that is a stand-alone Article, that precludes provisions of Article 120 (1)(2)(3) and (4) of the Constitution, when determining the tenure or age of retirement of the Chief Justice.

The petitioner further requested for the interpretation of the powers of the President of the United Republic of Tanzania to suspend the retirement age of the Justice of Appeal or extend time to service of the Justice of Appeal for public interest pursuant to Article 120 (2) and (3) does not apply to a Justice of Appeal, who is also the Chief Justice.

He further sought for a declaration that the suspension of retirement age or extension of tenure of the current Justice of Appeal, who is also the Chief Justice, Prof Ibrahim Hamis Juma pursuant to the provision of Article 120 (2) and (30 is unconstitutional.

In his judgment, the judge ruled that Article 118 of the Constitution cannot be read in isolation, but it is read together with Article 120 of the Constitution, thus the powers of the president to extend the tenure of the current Chief Justice into office was correct, hence constitutional.

“Article 120 (1) cannot be read with isolation of Articles 120 (2) (3) and (4), on that sense, the provision of Article 120 of the Constitution does apply to the Chief Justice, accurately suspension of retirement age or extension of the Justice of Appeal, who is the Chief Justice pursuant to Articles 120 (2) and (3) is legitimate,” he said.

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