Monday, August 25, 2014

Seychelles Chief Justice departs

Frederick Egonda-Ntende has left the office of Chief Justice after his contract was not renewed. Who will succeed him?

Chief Justice (CJ) Frederick Egonda-Ntende has vacated his office. He departed on Wednesday, when the Ugandan judge’s contract ran out. This was announced in a brief email circulated by the judiciary on Thursday. His chair has been filled by Acting Chief Justice (ACJ) Durai Karunakaran, who has backed him up in this capacity over the last five years, but whether this is a permanent fixture remains to be seen.

As the end of Mr Egonda-Ntende’s contract loomed closer over the last few weeks, there has been much speculation about whether it would be extended for another two years or if the Constitutional Appointments Authority would appoint another Chief Justice. According to sources in the legal profession, when neither happened, Mr Egonda-Ntende ended up feeling like was being strung-along, packed his bags, and left.

Attorneys that TODAY spoke to seemed surprised by the swiftness of the former Chief Justice’s departure, and wondered if he would return in some other capacity to preside over outstanding cases. ACJ Karunakaran stated this is not the case. “He won’t come back to office,” he confirmed to this newspaper, adding that “he does not have any cases that cannot be transferred to other judges.”

ACJ Karunakaran said that CJ Egonda-Ntende’s contract expired on 20 August, and he received a call one day later informing him that he will assume acting duty two days later. This seems to have happened haphazardly as Mr Karunakaran confirms that he has not received any official documents confirming this yet. When asked if the position could become permanent, he said it is “possible.” “It would be good, I’ve lived and practiced in Seychelles for the past 32 years and have a lot of experience in this court,” he said. ACJ Karunakaran is an Indian national.

Former CJ Egonda-Ntende was sworn to office on 21 August 2009, and presided over its translocation to Ile du Port, as well as several other notable developments in the judiciary. Sources expect that his permanent replacement will be announced over the next few days, and at least one local attorney has confirmed that they have submitted an application for the vacant post.

Source: Today