Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Magistrates are now required to deliver reserved judgments within 30 days, failure of which the judicial officer should report to the head of the court, as Government tightens screws in fighting corruption and ensuring expeditious delivery of justice.
The Magistrate’s Ethics Advisory Committee will also be constituted to determine standards of conduct for judicial officers.
These regulations were published by the Judicial Service Commission with the concurrence of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and are contained in a Statutory Instrument published last Friday.
There have been concerns from litigants that some judicial officers were taking ages to deliver judgments and in other instances such delivery would be merely academic as it would have been overtaken by events.
“Where a judgment is reserved to be delivered on notice, the judicial officer shall use his or her best efforts to ensure that such judgment is delivered within the next 30 days and except in unusual and exceptional circumstances, no judgment shall be delivered later than 60 days from the date when it is reserved,” read the regulations.
“Where a judicial officer reserves judgment in any case and the judicial officer has reason to believe he or she will not be able to render judgment within the 30-day period referred to in subsection (1) he or she shall inform his or her head of court of that fact.”
On the setting up of the Magistrate’s Ethics Advisory Committee, the regulations stipulated that it shall consist of not more than five and not less than three members appointed by the Chief Justice in consultation with the Chief Magistrate.
“The Magistrate’s Ethics Advisory Committee shall render advisory opinions not inconsistent with this code to enquiring judicial officers relating to the propriety of contemplated judicial and non-judicial conduct, but all opinions shall be advisory in nature,” read the regulations.
On gifts, the regulations stipulated that no judicial officer, nor family member, associate shall solicit or accept any gift bequest, loan or favour in relation to anything done or to be done by the judicial officer in connection with the performance of duties.
The regulations also disqualify judicial officers from actively engaging in political activities or hold any office in a political organisation.
The regulations are part of Government’s resolve to combat corruption which has been identified as one of the vices that retarded economic development.