Lusaka High Court Judge Dominic Sichinga has set August 6 for inter-parte hearing for judicial review in which former Transport Minister William Harrington is challenging acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda for refusing to set a tribunal to probe Tourism Minister Sylvia Masebo on corruption allegations.
This follows last week’s ruling that there was a contention that Justice Chibesakunda misapprehended the law when she refused to appoint a tribunal as the law did not give the Chief Justice any discretion under Section 13(3) of Cap 16.
According to the submission by Mr Harrington’s lawyer Mr Gilbert Phiri, upon receipt of a complaint the Chief Justice’s role was to simultaneously inform the President and the Speaker of the National Assembly and then proceed to constitute a tribunal.
Mr Phiri further submitted that at leave stage, the court needed not inquire into the merits of the main matter since Judicial Review was concerned with the decision making process and not the merits of the decision.
It was also submitted that the purpose of judicial review was to ensure that the public bodies and officials performed their functions or duties in good faith, without malice and in accordance with the law.
Judge Sichinga said that he had carefully perused the record at this stage and that he was satisfied that the notice filed in this application was in conformity with the law.
The acting chief justice Lombe Chibesakunda had refused to institute a tribunal to investigate allegations of corruption and abuse of office leveled against Ms Masebo.
Justice Chibesakunda had not given any reasons for the decision apart from stating that the petition for a tribunal by former Minister of Transport and Communication William Harrington did not meet the benchmark.
The refusal was contained in a letter by acting deputy chief justice Florence Mumba who stated that, “I am (Florence Mumba) directed to inform you that as the basis upon which to appoint a tribunal is not sufficient and does not meet the requirements of the relevant law, it is not possible for the acting chief justice to appoint a tribunal,” the letter dated 23 April 2013 reads in part.